Captain Aldridge walks into the 509th’s ready room and makes his way to the front. The few assembled pilots start to stand, but the captain holds his hand up. "Ladies and gentlemen – let’s drop decorum for a bit.
“Before I go any further, I want to give everyone a status update. Colonel Ingram suffered some pretty serious injuries while defending one of the city shelters. He’s in critical, but stable, condition. We’ll know more in a few days. Top also suffered some minor injuries, but he’s cleared for operational status. Unfortunately, we also have a few KIA, mostly as a result of being outside during the fold.
“The last few days have been pretty rough on everyone, and I just want to say that your efforts have not gone unnoticed. I know graduation meant new assignments, but those orders are effectively canceled – for obvious reasons. There will be a formal announcement later, but we don’t have time for formal change of command ceremonies.
“Effective as of 1800hrs yesterday, LTC Osman was given a brevet promotion to Colonel, and will assume command of the Prometheus. LtCdr Fokker turned down the XO slot because he wanted to remain the CAG, so Captain Glovall is still considering his options. Top is no longer a Top. He was made the SDF-1’s Sergeant Major, and I hear Glovall is fighting with the brass to push that to Command Sergeant Major.
“Many of you have been assigned to the 55th Fighter Squadron. This is a combat operational unit comprised of mostly RDF VT Class 055, but also has a few stragglers we picked up. The current acting CO is Staff Sergeant Brocka, acting XO is Sergeant Somporn, and acting Top is Sergeant Caldwell.”
The pilots are unable to contain both their shock and surprise, and the news has a mixed effect on the crowd.
Aldridge continues, “Acting flight leads for the 55th are also posted.”
A voice calls out from the back, “What about you, Cap’n?”
Aldridge’s lips purse for a second. "They’ve asked me to take over the 56th OG. It’s a great opportunity, but I’m sick of babysitting snot nose noobs. However, if forced into it, I may need a few cadre members. Talk to me if you might be interested.
“On a last note – this is the real deal. The slightest compromise in your airframes doesn’t just mean you lose air pressure – it could mean catastrophic decompression. Keep that in mind when you get promoted – it means you’re filling someone else’s boots.”