Episode 6: Days without End
Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel Sinclair shook his head. “I don’t care if you have an entire ground wing of people assigned to pull maintenance on these, these . . . things
,” he spat, waving a hand at the Thunder fighters parked on his flight deck. “On my deck, everyone works on what needs to be worked on—that means my folks need to get up to speed, and that your ground crews need to recheck their certification on the Viper Mk VI!”
“Look, Chief,” Captain Simon Tarkin said through clenched teeth, “the Thunders are cutting edge—our people know the systems. Yours don’t. So there ain’t one of you who is pulling a wrench on these birds.”
“My rank is Senior
Chief!” Sinclair bellowed. “And this is my
deck, Captain! Down here, I’m in charge—and you bet we need to get up to speed so that none of my people are put in danger by an untested aircraft operating on this deck! I want the aircraft maintenance manuals for these birds—and
their maintenance logs—and I want them now, or this whole fracking squadron is grounded
“Like HELL!” Tarkin yelled right back . . . and he backed down as a third person stepped up between them.
Colonel Jayne glared at both of the men. “You two want to settle this with fisticuffs, head on down the gym—but the flight deck is not a place for two senior officers and NCOs on this Battlestar to go head-to-head, gentlemen. Now what is the problem?”
Both men began to talk at once.
“THAT IS ENOUGH!” roared Jayne.
“Senior Chief Petty Officer Sinclair, what is the problem?”
The deck boss worked his jaw and glared at the pilot that was new to the flight deck of the Scorpia
. “Captain Tarkin claims that my people aren’t qualified to do our job on those . . . imitation . . . fighters,” he growled, “that he landed on my
deck. My deck
“And he is right,” Tom said calmly. He held up a hand and smiled as his hot-headed chief of the deck started to wind himself back up. “YET, Senior Chief. Captain Tarkin, I want the aircraft maintenance manuals and logs for those birds handed over to Senior Chief Sinclair ASAP—is that understood?”
“Sir, I,” Tarkin began, but Tom cut him off.
“The only words I want to hear come out of your mouth, Hunter, are ‘Aye, aye, Sir.’ Care to try that again?”
“Aye, aye, Sir,” he answered.
“Good. Now, that being said Senior Chief Sinclair, until your people come to up speed—to MY satisfaction—they aren’t laying their hands on those new birds. So I would advise you to light a fire under your people. In the meantime, we do have personnel from Cerberus who are trained to perform maintenance on the Thunder Mk I—we are not grounding them so long as they can keep them flying.”
“And we need to have people cross-trained in these birds, Hunter. I want you to make certain that Rambler gets several copies of the aircraft flight manuals—you have a simulator program?”
Hunter winced. “We do, Colonel. This isn’t a good idea—my entire squadron is built around test-qualified pilots, Sir. The Thunder is going to be a good fighter, but it hasn’t been proven yet—nor have all the bugs been worked out.”
Tom snorted. “I’m the XO aboard this Battlestar, Hunter. That means my ideas are always
good ideas—as far as a Captain and a Senior Chief Petty Officer are concerned. Is that understood?”
“Yes, Sir!” barked Tarkin and Sinclair in unison.
“Good. Now, exactly how ready are your pilots, Hunter?”
,” he answered, putting stress on the second word, “are supposed to be testing this aircraft back on Picon right now. They are 100% familiar with the aircraft, Colonel, and are all highly trained specialists. They can fly CAP no problem, if that is what you are asking. Heck,” and Hunter smiled, “we wouldn’t mind flying a strike against a Basestar to tell you the truth.”
“I don’t doubt that, Hunter,” Tom said quietly. “Nor does Senior Chief Sinclair. How long to get them back up to speed on Battlestar Flight Operations?”
“We’ll be ready by tomorrow—they all have at least five hundred flight deck landings on their jackets. They know the drill, Colonel.”
“Good. Senior Chief Sinclair, do you have any further issues?”
“Only that the damn birds are too wide,” he grumbled. “There is just four centimeters of clearance between the wingtips and the launch tube—four fracking centimeters
! That’s cutting it a bit close, Sir.”
“They cut it close,” Hunter agreed, “but a properly aligned magnetic catapult will—should
—still operate nominally and allow a launch without kissing the tube.”
“With no margin for error, Captain,” the deck-boss snarled, but then he sighed and scratched his scalp. “We’ll make it work, Colonel.”
“Good. See to it that both of you—and your people—do. I’m not about to let twenty brand-new fighters rust and their pilots get out of shape because the squadron commander and the chief of the deck are at odds,” Tom said.
And then Sinclair began to chuckle. “You find something humorous, COD?”
“I was just thinking, Sir. How two days ago I was thinking how fracked we were with just fifty operational Vipers. Now we’ve got seventy and twenty of these abominations. Don’t worry, Sir—don’t let the Commander worry. We’ll get it done.”
Tom nodded at the two men and then he headed back up the ladder, to complete his mid-watch tour of the ship.