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2ndLt Josh ‘’Ringo” Henderson – The Sound of Freedom

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One of the problems with SB118 is it's high quality of writing.  I'm constantly shamed by the beautiful writings of others, and wish I could infuse humour or realism the way others do.  @Judiciar Westus Grevious uses his experience to give us insight into what it's like to be in the military, even one that's space faring.  It's a pleasure and honour to write with him and every single other person in this community.  

((Valkyrie 4, Grey mode, Orbiting New Bajor))


Josh Henderson had wanted to be a pilot ever since he saw his first air show  when he was seven.  Alas, it wasn’t in the cards for him, and despite his best efforts, Josh had failed out of flight school, but not so badly that he wasn’t able to stick with Marine aviation.  Managing phasers, sensors, and torpedoes from the back seat of a fighter was the next best thing to being in the front seat anyway.  It did make for a much more interesting job on missions like the one he was on now.  While Ishani was stuck in the front seat with nothing to do, Josh could at least monitor and manipulate the sensor readouts and the craft’s on board sensors.  Still, It was much more fun to simply annoy his pilot.  As loudly as he could, Josh Henderson cracked all ten of his knuckles in such rapid succession that it could have been mistaken for far off gunfire.


Singh:  Henderson, would you cut that out?  You're not going to have any tendons left in your hands at this rate, and you've got a lot of buttons to push back there.  


Henderson:  Oh please. You front seaters always say we’re just self-loading baggage back here. Maybe it’d do you good to see what happens when I can’t press my buttons.  It’s not like anything’s gonna go down  anyway.  Why are we even out here?


Singh:  You know why we're here.  Because those were our orders, Marine. As for why you're here - I can only assume Lieutenant Greaves is still upset I cleaned him out at poker last month.  


Josh laughed and reached forward to slap the side of the woman’s helmet in jest.


Henderson:  I KNEW it. It IS you I have to thank for sitting in a cold tin can with nothing to do! 


He watched the planet below slowly spin in place, almost imperceptibly slowly.  Through the clouds he could see swaths of greens, blues, and tans.


Henderson:  But really though, what’re we out here for?  The Thor up and skedaddled. I mean, I know we’ve got people on the ground, but aren’t we just dropping off supplies?


Singh:  Well, specifically, our orders were to conduct a training operation.  Fleet Captain Kells didn't want to inflame the situation by bringing a big security force down to the planet, because it's his job to be a good representative for the Federation and Starfleet Command.  Commander Teller didn't want the CO to be totally exposed, because it's his job to look out for the welfare of the crew, Fleet Captains included.  So, he ordered 1st Lt. Greaves to put a low-profile support detachment together, because it's his job to make sure a crayon eater like you has something to do with their days.  ::Ishani paused, enjoying the brief moment of silence::  You following all this so far or you like a picture?  


Henderson:  Yeah, I’d love a picture. (fakes searching the [...]pit)  Wait, did you eat my box of crayons again? Come-on Snowball, you know I was saving those for after lunch.  Just give it to me straight.


Singh:  So, right now we're training.  Our hypothetical training scenario is that the CO and several officers have beamed into potential hostile territory and the Thor has been called away.  We are to on high guard.  Out the window to our starboard, you'll see Valkyrie 5 doing the same thing.  A bit below us and aft is a type 9 shuttle, the Freyr. Should we hypothetically observe something atypical...::Ishani tapped a knuckle on the biomonitors locked onto the away team to accentuate her point::...the shuttle is here to extract our people and we're to provide support.  Do you even listen during the briefings?  


Josh reached below his chair and triggered a mechanical lever.  His seat reclined an extra 20 degrees and the WSO leaned back in comfort.


Henderson:  Me?  I took detailed notes, I’ve got this down pat. I just like hearing you rattle off from your high horse.  (grinning)


Singh:  Fine, but next time I expect you to...


Josh folded his hands behind his head and stretched his back in the cramped [...]pit just as a red light illuminated the small space.  In a split second the crew of the fighter had dropped their back and forth, voices replaced with efficient and professional calls.  Josh double checked the validity of the biosigns, and cursed under his breath.


Hands flying over the controls, both of them spun up the engines and restored system power. The small fighter came to life with a faded hum, and Josh worked the sensors at full power, isolating the location of the team.  Before she could even bring it up, he already was working the comms.


Henderson: =/\= Two, this is lead, Loki. I say again, Loki. Follow us down. Spread left. =/\=


Valkyrie 4-2 WSO: =/\= Two copies Loki.  On it. =/\=


Singh:  Advise the strat ops officer on the rescue shuttle we are inbound to secure an LZ for them.  They're to wait till we're passing through the mesosphere and then follow us down.  What's our ETA to the ground?  


He had a solid fix on the away team on sensors, and Josh sent the coordinates to the front seat nav computer.  A small blue triangle populated in their heads up displays, marking the location of the team and populating a computer generated ETA countdown.


Henderson:  On it.  Two is already poshing spread left.  The away team’s coordinates should be on your scope as well. I’m not picking up any threats as of yet.


He reached for the comm push to talk and keyed the button as the ship rotated to align with the coordinates.


Henderson: =/\= Freyr, this is Valkyrie 4-1.  Loki. I say again, Loki. We’re inbound to the site and we’ll set you up for a straight in to the LZ.  Push once we enter the mesosphere. How copy? =/\=


Rouiancet: =/\= Response=/\=


Henderson: Unknown at this time. We’re working on it. Recommend you go direct comms with the away team while we push ahead. Valkryie 4-1 out.


Josh continued to work the sensor controls, manually fine tuning the scan resolution while powering up the shields and weapons.  He checked the adjacent structures, underground, in the air. He checked for unusual particles and looked for energy signatures.  Nothing came up out of the ordinary.


Henderson:  Snowball, looks like we can be down in 120 seconds. Should be hit atmo  right away once we push. I’ve got nothing on the scope as far as threats.  No idea what happened to the skipper.  We might be best off doing some low passes as a show of force over the LZ.


Singh: Response


Singh:  =/\= Freyr, this is Valkyrie 4.  We are ten seconds from burndown.  Sensors show our people in trouble.  Can you confirm?  =/\=


Rouiancet: =/\= Response =/\=


Singh's hands tightened around the controls as the computer counted off the final seconds.  


Singh:  =/\= Copy all.  Valkyrie 4, committing. =/\= 


That was it. Despite the two of them sharing the same rank, Snowball had been given the role of mission commander, and it was her choice on how to address anything that popped up while the Thor was away.  She had spoken the magic words, commit, and now the mission was on.  Josh felt a subtle shift in gravity as the ship rocketed forward and the inertial dampeners compensated.  It was go time.


Rouiancet: =/\= Response =/\=


Henderson:  Roger, we’re committed.


The nose of the fighter aligned with the planet and the engines surged to life.  Out the [...]pit window, New Bajor grew until it filled Ishani's view entirely, and then the plasma flames of reentry began creeping around the canopy. The roar in the [...]pit quickly grew deafening.  


As the ship shot into the atmosphere of the planet it began to rock violently.  Under normal circumstances the dampeners would compensate admirably, but Snowball had them in a steep dive under significant acceleration.  A very non-standard entry.  Alarms began ringing throughout the [...]pit and Josh pulled up diagnostic readouts.


Henderson:  (Shouting over the roar) Take it easy Snowball.  We’re coming in too hot. Hull temperature is sky rocketing.


Singh: Response


Henderson:  We can’t help them if we become a bright red smear across the sky!  I’m trying to compensate with vents.


Almost as soon as he keyed the controls to begin venting some of the heat, the sound of stressed metal filled the [...]pit and the craft suddenly jerked left as a tearing thunk signaled the destruction of something on the hull.  Warnings flashed across his display.


Singh: Response


Henderson: Whoops! Don’t mind that, might have just torn off a shuttered vent intake.  No vents it is.  I need you to slow us down 12 percent. That’ll keep us at red line, but it’ll keep us alive. Trust me on this.


Singh: Response


The next several moments were filled with tense rocking and buffeting as the ship decelerated in the increasingly thick air.  Finally after what seemed like a lifetime of staring at hull temperature readouts, they were safely through the reentry and closing on the away team’s location.


Henderson:  They’re inside a structure, but it looks like there’s a good spot for the shuttle to set down right next to the entrace. I’m pushing the coordinates to the Freyr now.


He rapidly tapped a few keys and pushed more data to the pilot’s computer and heads up display.


Henderson:  You should see a flight path on your display now.  Follow it precisely, and I mean perfectly.  It’ll take us over the heads of whoever is down there, clearing buildings by a few feet.  Probably will shatter a couple windows too. Anyone thinking of pushing their luck will think twice.


Singh: Response




2ndLt Josh Henderson

Marine Weapons Systems Operator



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