=/\= Begin Log =/\=
With sim runs going full tilt, the WCO didn't have much down time to enjoy the station, and in fact, tended to take her meals aboard the Artemis. The most recent round of sim runs had run late, and she was grabbing a late dinner in the mess hall. Grabbing a hamburger with a side of fries, she found a seat at one of the many empty tables. She figured most of the crew were likely off enjoying a bit of downtime on Leto. . .at least those crew that weren't tied to the Flight Deck or Engineering.
"Can I join you?" Charlie asked as she walked up to the woman. "I think you exited the simulator next to the one where I was having a go. It's always nicer to eat with somebody who knows what they're talking about," she smiled. Her own food was the daily suggestion they had lined up. She wasn't exactly sure what it meant to be, but she was sure it would taste just fine.
Looking up, Paks gave a warm, if not small smile and waved at the seat across from her, "By all means, please pull up a chair." She gave a slight shrug, "I don't know that it was me. I've been running my pilots through simulator runs pretty much non-stop since I arrived. I'm getting a feel for what their skill levels are, and an idea of who will belong to what squad. I've had a few runs of my own with those I think will work well in my squad, but the focus has been on them more than me." She bit into a fry and after swallowing it down, she tilted her head, "I do know we haven't met yet. I'm Commander Paks Malone, but you can call me Spitfire. Are you our Helm officer?"
Charlie put down her tray across from Paks and sat down. She looked doubtfully at her food, and questioned her own decision not to go with a hamburger. "I'm a Helm officer, yes," she confirmed. "Charline Geroux, but you can call me Charlie. It's nice to meet you," she added in an afterthought and started poking at her food.
"Nice to meet you as well," Paks replied before taking a bite of her burger. "So tell me. . .what do you think about flying this beast of a ship of ours?" She took a bite of her burger as she waited to hear the nav officer's answer. There always seemed to be a friendly rivalry between fighter pilots and nav officers. Their skill sets overlapped to some degree, but the job of a fighter pilot and the job of a helm officer were different enough that Paks wouldn't want to be at the helm of the Artemis any more than she'd want to throw a nav offier in the middle of a dog fight in a fighter.
"I've flown more elegant starships, but she'll do," Charlie replied easily. The awkwardness of their respective positions wasn't lost on her, nor was Paks' careful wait for her reply. On the other hand, there were few people who understood what it was to fly a ship, no matter its size. Fighter pilots definitely qualified in that rare category, so she had learned a long time ago that she had to make the most of their company. "I wouldn't mind some sim time on a fighter, though."
To this, Paks arched a brow and smiled wryly at Charlie, "Sim time on a Ranger, eh?" She bit into a fry and considered the woman across from her, "I'm pretty sure I know a person who can make that happen. Sim time right now is at a premium, but once I get the squad configuration sorted, it will ease off a bit. Already told the Captain she's welcome on the flight deck, but then she and I were both aboard the Artemis together back in the day." She finished off the fry she'd been holding, and added, "Though if you put in a transfer to move from Helm to Fighter Pilot, I suspect the Captain might just have a thing or two to say to me for....encouraging you." With this, she couldn't help the broad smile, but let it linger only for a moment before taking a big bite of her burger.
Now it was Charlie's turn to raise an eyebrow. "I'm sure you don't need me teaching all your young hot shots to fly. I'm pretty sure you can manage that all by yourself. Just some fun would suffice for me," she grinned and took another bit from her own plate, imagining it was a juicy burger. "Talking about fighters and your nickname, I've flown through most of Earth's history on the holodeck. It's a pity they don't have proper sims for those craft, but I guess it would be a waste of resources. You ever fly a Spitfire?"
Washing a bit of her burger down with a sip of her drink, the pilot nodded, "I have, as a matter of fact. After the war, I left 'fleet to become a test pilot. The owner of the company I worked for has an impressive collection of antique aircraft, and the Spitfire was among them. It was a fun little plane to fly, though I found it a toss up between that and the P-51 on performance. I don't know that I could pick a favorite between the two. My all time favorite, though is the Corsair." She ate another couple of fries before she continued, "It may not be quite as dynamic as the Spitfire or Mustang, but the Corsair is a sweet little bird to fly. Her folding wings and the standard navy blue paint job. . .she is a pretty little thing, to be sure."
"P-51, Cadillac of the sky," Charlie mused. She had long given up enjoying her food, so she just scooped it up and swallowed it. The reminiscence of being able to dream about flying, and all sorts of ancient craft, was enough to make up for her lunch. "Next time I have some holodeck time, I'll go for the Sopwith Camel. It's been a while since I've flown that, and it gives me the most freedom I've ever experienced up in the air. The mechanical way of staying afloat makes it almost.. magical".
Paks hesitated before taking another bite of her burger, "Sopwith Camel, eh? I haven't spent much time with biplanes, but yeah, I get what you mean. The tri-planes were the ones that always amazed me. The P-51 is fun, but I still come back to the Corsair. It's not quite as fast or as maneuverable, but the wing design and that it was specifically designed for carrier flights has always been a draw for me." She took the bite of burger and washed it down with her drink, "Not that any of them are anything like the Rangers. They're good little fighters, I have to say. Though. . .flying them in atmosphere isn't nearly as fun as any of the ones we've been talking about. They can do atmospheric flight, and would fly circles around those vintage planes. It's just. . .different." With this, she popped the last bit of burger in her mouth and turned her attention to what was left of her fries, "So if you have a thing for something like the Sopwith Camel, why go Navigation instead of Fighter Pilot? What's the draw for you? It's like night and day flying a fighter versus something like the Artemis."
Charlie put down her fork, and shoved her tray away from her. She couldn't deny the validity of the woman on the other side of the table. It was one she had struggled with for a long time. "Single seats are more of a hobby," she shrugged after a pause. "I like flying them when I'm not on duty, but I find more satisfaction in being on a Bridge where there's people around," she spoke. "I prefer the company over being alone in your craft for hours at a time. Though I'll admit that it's a completely different skill set and not as thrilling."
Eating one more fry before pushing her tray away from her, Paks shrugged slightly, "One of my former crewmates from the Artemis used to sit in your chair. I think she'd argue that in her mind it was just as thrilling, but in a different way. I can see the appeal of the company, but at this stage in my career, I'm not sure I could give up my fighters. It's in my blood." She flashed a wry grin. "But. . .once we've got our squad lineups sorted, we should have more sim times available, and I can probably get you in. . .either fly with you myself or see if one of my pilots wants to have a go as your wingmate for the sim run. Come find me once we've got some down time, and we'll make it happen."
"I will," Charlie smiled and got to her feet while picking up her tray with both hands. "Thanks for the company and the chat. It's not every day my companion knows what I'm talking about."