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Angel Wings

Posted on Tuesday October 11th, 2016 @ 8:20pm by Lieutenant Commander Olivia Constantine & Lieutenant Commander Michael Lambeth

Mission: Intermission 1: New Home
Location: USS Jerusalem: Deck 32, CAG's Office
Timeline: 4 February 2392, 1400

USS Jerusalem: Deck 32
4 February 2392, 1400

It was probably a credit to the Jerusalem's chaplain that, after even a month aboard, his presence throughout the ship, in his medical teal uniform with a Roman collar, a small Latin Cross near his rank insignia denoting his clerical state, didn't really draw stares and confusion from any of the crew anymore, after they'd been aboard a few days. Whatever their beliefs, the chaplain showing up amid a duty shift, unobtrusively engaged in his ministry of presence, was just...a thing that happened. It was normal, almost expected, that sometimes, seemingly out of the blue, the chaplain (or "Padre" as he was respectfully being referred to by an increasing number of the enlisted) would appear to observe, maybe offer a soft word of encouragement to a crewmember or officer having a rough watch, and sometimes just soothe the inevitable high tempers with his (unbeknownst to the crew, long-practiced) calming presence.

So it was this afternoon - even with the ship in dock and many of the crew enjoying a few days' leave, the area known as "pilot country" (or, more broadly, "air country") was alive with activity of various sorts. And the chaplain, from the moment he walked out of the turbolift, was quietly among them, occasionally asking questions or offering a few words when it seemed opportune. He'd been on the starbase, among the crew taking time for some R&R, in the morning and over the previous days. But a chaplain's work was never really done, and so he soon returned to walking the decks of Jerusalem when he had a chance amid his other work.

The CAG's office sat deep within pilot country, perched some four decks above the Valkyrie fighter bays below. Inside, Olivia Constantine was enjoying a break from the constant scheduled appointments and sim sessions, partaking in her own version of R&R by listening to some music and idly messaging a few friends that were currently scattered across the galaxy.

Soon enough, then, Father Lambeth approached the door to the CAG's office, pressing the chime gently. When the CAG called for the visitor to enter and opened the door, he stepped in quickly, letting the door close behind him. "Commander, I never did get a chance to congratulate you on your promotion; that said, beyond the usual questions I might have of a department head around here, I do have a question to ask of you specifically," he said.

"Ah, welcome chaplain," Constantine sprang to her feet. "Thank you, I'm still getting used to the proverbial third pip burning on my collar. Having to learn how to walk again cause the extra mental weight makes me list to one side ever so slightly," she laughed. It was new thing to have a chaplain aboard a starship, but from what she had been hearing, he had been a welcome addition to the crew thus far.

"Anyway, stupid jokes aside," the air boss grinned, "fire away with your question sir."

"Well, here's the situation. Since I came aboard, the Captain and I have been having discussions with my ecclesiastical and Starfleet chains of command as to how I could best orient myself to the more combat-focused elements of the Jerusalem's crew and embarked units - your air group, the Marines, to some extent the Security and Combat Operations departments. Couple that with the fact that I never have learned to fly, and I'm wondering. Do you think it'd be helpful if I learned to fly at least a shuttlecraft, would you consider it at all useful in helping orient me to the Air Group and the pressures upon the air crews and ground crews if I learned to fly a fighter in the simulators, and would you be willing to teach me to do one, the other, or both?"

"Sounds like a good way build some common ground and empathize with us pilots, so on that level, I am in favor of it," Constantine began. "However, learning to fly, even if it's just the basics, can be a time and resource consuming experience. I can't really guarantee what my schedule will allow, but if you're willing to deal with a little unpredictability in schedule, then I'll be willing to help you. At worst, you may end up in one of the early morning sim slots."

"Sounds like not a terrible way to approach the schedule. Saying Mass followed by PT followed by learning to fly. I could do that," Lambeth quipped with a grin. "The thing is, beyond the obvious 'How not to hurt myself flying a shuttlecraft', what are you thinking I should know, in technical terms," he gestured out a window at the flight deck, "to help them?" Beat. "The idea is that eventually I won't be the only chaplain aboard this ship, or aboard carriers generally, so I got asked by the Chief of Chaplains to, while I'm learning, work with you on formulating a curriculum to orient newly-assigned chaplains to carrier life. Obviously, learning about the air group will be a big part of that for anyone."

"Well, the first thing that immediately jumps to mind is the lingo. Other departments have their phrases and sayings, but pilots have them for just about everything. The words are in Federation standard, but they will be in an order and context that may not make sense," the CAG replied with a shrug. "It's a long held tradition dating back to aviation in the twentieth century back on Earth. An entirely new set of terms in order to create short, concise phraseology that is easier to understand over a radio, if you will."

Constantine paused for a moment, laughing at the sheer incomprehensibility and convoluted nature of the explanation she had just given.

She continued, "Just ask for an explanation if you're confused about what something means, okay?"

"Got it," Lambeth replied.

Constantine continued. "Other than that - and I honestly don't know how in depth psychology and counseling have to do with your profession - you can expect to deal with the standard gamut of Starfleet officers. Keep in mind that a majority of the people in my department are commissioned, so you've got a bunch of officers with type A, goal-driven personalities.

"And sometimes they clash," she completed her thought after moving around to the front of her desk.

"Amusingly, psychology and counseling has a ton to do with service as a priest, either in a parish or as a chaplain. Add to that that I'm a clinical psychologist on the side with a PhD, and yeah, I know what you mean. So basically, pilots are like Marines but with bigger egos?" This is said by Lambeth with a grin.

"I hate to generalize, there's always exceptions and you know that, but you've pretty much got it," the CAG nodded. With a smirk and faux-condescending tone, she continued, "I mean, after all, on a carrier, like, the world has to revolve around, like, somebody right? It might as well be, like, us pilots. It's a zoomie's world out there."

Constantine motioned to the chairs in front of them, returning to her normal tone of voice before continuing. "Apologies for being a terrible host, please, feel free to have a seat. Would you like anything to drink before we continue?"

Laughing a bit, Lambeth sat down, nodding. "It's fine. Water'd be good, though." Once the water was delivered, he looked thoughtful. "So if I were training newbie carrier chaplains, the things you'd want to make sure they knew were the culture and the vocabulary. What about the technical end of things? Would it help us to be able to fly non-combat, or not so much?"

"Well, I mean, I am an instructor at heart, so to that extent I like to share flying with as many people as possible. When I cycled back for a tour back home last time, I took an instructor tour. Same goes for the one before that," Constantine explained, taking a seat for herself. "But to more directly answer your question, yes, I think it would certainly help. But I also think learning to fly is something that you should take on because you want to, not because your job demands it. If our pilots get a whiff of insincerity about the joy of flying, that'll turn them off completely. Better to go in with no knowledge at all at that point."

"So it'd help, and is therefore recommended if you don't have basic flight certification, but don't do it if the given chaplain doesn't want to. Got it." Lambeth concluded. "Fortunately, I think anybody assigned to a carrier is going to be the active type likely to be interested in flying - shipboard assignments are still volunteer for the chaplain corps, especially given the carriers don't take dependents, but you raise a good point about them having to be actually interested lest you turn off their audience."

He changed the subject, then. "On that note. How long do you think it'd take me to learn how to fly? I already put in the time to learn the theoretical end of things with a flight instructor on Earth before my assignment here became official, but I've never actually flown anything, even in the simulators."

Constantine held a finger up, signalling that she needed just a moment as she got up and walked to her desk. Retrieving her PADD, she tapped a few commands and the display that up until now had been masquerading as the floor-to-ceiling window to the flight deck began to change. Years of design, research, and development all meant that the "big board" worked perfectly, reducing its transparency and dimming ever so slightly before displaying the file that Constantine had selected.

"Heh, I still get a kick out of that," the CAG grinned before turning to face Lambeth. She had the contents of the file memorized, so there was no need for her to face the display. "This, my dear chaplain, is the syllabus that is commonly used by civilians when they seek their private certifications. Highlights include a certain amount of time spent flying solo, with an instructor, from place to place, et cetera. You'll notice that forty hours are listed as the minimum requirement, but since yours truly has a special certification, we can forego that I can sign you off whenever you display proficiency. The amount of time it takes will vary depending on a number of factors."

Making her way back around her desk to her seat, Olivia gave the chaplain a few moments to absorb the scale of the task that he had set out to accomplish. She took a sip of water from her glass before continuing.

"It will certainly help if you have good hand-eye coordination, multi-tasking ability, and good attention to detail. However, flying isn't difficult. You could train almost anyone to do it given enough time, which, incidentally is the most important factor to how slowly or quickly this thing will go. If you can devote enough time to see me or one of the instructors multiple times a week, you won't waste the first twenty minutes of each lesson reviewing what you went over the last time out. The effect compounds, as you can well imagine."

"I can. Well, in port, I'm actually fairly free once I celebrate Mass each morning, except for saying my office and hearing confessions as the need arises. So I can easily devote an hour or three a day this month to training," Lambeth replied. "Once we deploy again, that's a different story for both of us."

"Yeah, tell me about it. I've got our department wide meetings down to a minimum, but it still takes a while to disseminate information to the entire group. I wish I was a Bynar or that I could clone myself a couple of times, but I'm learning how to handle it all., but I digress," Constantine interrupted her own train of thought. "When would you like to start? I've usually got departmental stuff in the mornings, but for now, the rest of the days are pretty clear."

"I might suggest that you need to delegate. Keeping my ear to the ground is part of the job, so I know they've been kicking around wing CO's beneath you - it might help you if you implemented that, simply to deal with the scale of the task," Lambeth suggested. "I can work in the afternoons, easily. 1400 to, say, 1600 or 1700 daily except Sundays?" It was, he hoped, obvious why Sundays had him busy. Religion might not be as influential as it was, but it wasn't dead in the popular imagination...was it?

"That actually works out pretty well for me. There may be a few days where I'll have to send one of my other instructors to cover a thing or two, but in general, this should work. We might as well get started with the first thing on the agenda," Constantine reached onto her desk and grabbed an extra PADD before offering it to Lambeth. "This is pretty much the syllabus we'll follow. There's a little bit of reading and/or interactive learning before each lesson that I would like you to complete before each lesson. Bring questions. I fully expect there to be moments of total confusion, but that'll make that 'lightbulb moment' even sweeter when we reach it."

"Looks achievable," Lambeth replied, looking over the PADD. "Anything else?"

"No, I think that just about covers it. I'm looking forward to getting started! It's been awhile since I've had a primary student, so it'll be fun to get back down into the fundamentals. Trust me, getting back to the basics will be beneficial to both of us, albeit for different reasons," Constantine nodded. "If you ever have any questions about something, feel free to get in contact with me. That self-study program is pretty good though, shouldn't be too difficult."

"We'll see. If there's nothing else, then, Commander, I'll take my leave of you for now."

"Very well chaplain, it was very nice to meet you. Study up, and I look forward to seeing you again soon," Constantine returned as she stood to signify the end of their meeting.

With that, then, the priest stepped out of the office as quietly as he'd entered, bound for elsewhere on the ship.

 

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