“Attention on deck!”, bellowed 1SG Emil Foley . His thick British accent normally made him difficult to understand, but the men and women of the 56th OG had been working with him long enough to be able to translate. The personnel quickly scrambled to their feet as Colonel Donald “Mac” Ingram, the Combined Arms Group Commander, walked into the 56th Operations Group briefing room.
“Take your seats”, said Ingram, “I’ll try to make this short because I’ve got to meet Captain Gloval in a few minutes. We’ve got Class 055 showing up tomorrow, and I wanted a SITREP on each department’s status because I know some of you are taking tomorrow off. XO?”
“Sir”, lieutenant colonel Dave “Bunsen” Burner said as he stood, “For the most part, the group is doing well. We are having minor maintenance issues. Nothing life threatening, but there are still shakedown glitches in VTs. Two birds are down for routine maintenance, and maintenance expects them to be ready to go no later than Saturday. I’ll let the squadron commanders give you specifics.”
He paused to gauge Ingram’s reaction, but received only a nod. He continued, “We will have 24 VT and 18 Destroid pilots in this class. One of the VT pilots is a recycle because of a training injury, but the rest are all noobs. A few hotshots, but nothing we haven’t seen before. Based on their SBRs, I don’t anticipate any problems. Hack?”
A short man strode to the front of the room. Unlike most of the other pilots in the room, the wings on his uniform were gold. Lieutenant colonel Pete “Hack” Osman turned towards COL Ingram and said, “Sir, the 309th has one VF-1J down for repair. Sergeant Derrick noticed one of the turret lasers wasn’t responding to inputs, so he’s working with the vendor to figure out what’s going on. She should be up and running by tomorrow. Their first flight isn’t until next Friday, so we have plenty of buffer.” He waited for a response from Ingram, who only blinked.
The room was silent for a few awkward seconds, and finally Osman just stepped off the stage. He was replaced by another light bird who gave a similar status for the 310th. One by one, the major unit heads gave accountability reports. Two Gladiators were undergoing repair from damage caused by a Class 054 student. There was a shortage of milk. Adler Industries sent an entire shipment of incorrectly-sized replacement motherboards for six simulators. One crew chief was on emergency leave because of an illness in the family. The list went on.
Seated in the back of the briefing room was Ryan “Slipstream” Aldridge. Like many of the other junior grade officers, Aldridge held a position higher than someone of his rank normally would normally merit. The Global Civil War’s attrition of experienced military personnel caused many of the world’s militaries to promote whoever was left alive, and he was one of those beneficiaries. A squadron executive officer billet would usually be filled by a major or lieutenant colonel with about 15-20 years of experience, and not a 27 year old Captain who had only been an officer for ten.
However, his flying credentials were unquestionable. His natural ability helped him earn honor graduate awards for his early flight training, and as a teenager he had over 30 aerial victories during the GCW. He loved his job as a flyer, and had resisted this assignment for years. He knew that this was a young man’s game, but a staff position meant he would be flying a desk more than a plane. He sighed a little at the irony – his skills got him where he was, but where he was meant he would have less opportunity to employ those skills.
At least a training position allowed for more flight time than some frontline squadrons, but sometimes he wished for another war.