Disclaimer: Not mine!
SUMMARY: Starbuck sets the Nuggets straight on why Lee gets to spend so much time in the Mark VII.
CHARACTERS: Kara, Lee, various new Nuggets
SPOILERS: Mini, S1
This is the Silly Li'l Fic That Could. It wouldn't stop chugging away in my brain until I sat down and wrote it out. So voila! The end result! I always thought there might be a bit of pilot envy amongst the Viper pilots, especially the Nuggets, that Lee gets the most time in a Mark VII while the bulk of the pilots get Mark IIs. So how come you never see it? Perhaps on account of a little something like this... ;)
piece of flying and I couldn't have done it better myself."
"Hand of God"
This new crop of Nuggets was going to be the death of her; probably by firing squad, because Adama was going to have her executed when she murdered the lot.
"I don't get it. How come he always gets the Mark VII and we get stuck with these rust buckets?"
Maybe they weren't getting enough fiber. Perhaps that was what made them so dense. There was something to be said for bowel movement regularity and its effect on higher brain functions. A few more bran muffins in their diet and they'd be good as gold. They certainly wouldn't be stupid enough to insult their senior pilots.
Within earshot of other senior pilots.
"Yeah, I mean, wouldn't it make more sense for all of us to get a turn now and then? Just in case we're strapped in the future and have to fly a Mark VII? From what I've heard, a Mark II doesn't even compare."
Would it be considered murder? Was there a way she could pass it off as a service to humanity? After all, getting the idiots out of the gene pool, shallow though it may be, could only benefit the Fleet in the future. If you were going to rebuild mankind from the ground up, you didn't want the population interbreeding with monkeys.
"He's not that good a pilot, really. Hot Dog tagged him last week during the war game, remember? I heard he only got to be CAG because his father's the Commander."
Lee was currently across the hanger bay, doing his pre-flight check on the Mark VII before setting out on the mid-shift CAP. This was a good thing. It meant that if she started busting heads and breaking noses, he'd be too far away to do anything about it until she'd at least shed a little blood.
"I heard he only got to be captain because his last name's Adama."
Okay, that did it. A lot of blood.
"You know what I heard, Tanker?" she snapped, stepping into view around the wing of the Viper and enjoying the way all three Nuggets jumped sky high at her intrusion. "I heard jackasses who don't respect their superiors get a one-way ticket to the brig. That's if I'm generous. If I'm stingy, you get a fun side trip to Sickbay first. So you'd better pray I'm feeling generous today, and I can say right now you're sure as hell not helping my mood by lolling around under that Viper and not snapping to attention like good little Nuggets. At-ten-TION!"
It really was a beautiful thing, the way they pirouetted to their feet like so many grade school ballerinas. "That was cute," she observed, raking an appraising eye over their collective stances. "I should get you little pink tutus, make you do a review for the Command Staff. I think that'd just about make their day. But you know why I'm not going to do that? Because it would embarrass the hell out of me for them to see what worthless bags of crap you are, and I don't like being embarrassed. Do you like being embarrassed, Tanker?" she snarled, getting up in the face of the tall, burly Nugget who she judged to be the ringleader of this band of merry morons. "Does that get you off?"
"Sir, no, sir!" he barked, staring at a point above her head.
"Funny, here I thought you loved it. You know why I thought you loved it? Checkers, tell him why I thought he loved it."
"Sir, I don't know, sir!" the young woman to Tanker's right yelped. She was narrow in face, body and expression, with hair the color of coffee grinds.
"You don't know?" Kara sneered. "Well, you're obviously not the brains of this operation. Which is saying something, because I don't think there's enough brain between the three of you to fill a teacup. Am I right, Acheron?"
"Sir, yes, sir!"
She afforded the young man -- little boy she corrected herself – a too-sweet smile. "Finally, a correct answer! Give the tow-headed farm boy a cookie." Hardening her expression, she crossed her wrists behind her back and gave each Nugget a pointed glare. "Now let's rewind a little, because I think I misheard you when you were talking earlier, and I want to make sure I get this right before I haul your asses upriver and dump you there without a paddle. See, from what I could tell, the three of you were being good little grease monkeys and doing maintenance on this Mark II." She gestured to the plane behind them. "But then I get a little fuzzy. You see, it sounded to me like you weren't talking about maintenance, or sex, or whatever pea-brained subjects you kids consider good conversation these days. It sounded to me like you were insulting the CAG. But I can't believe that three upstanding young people such as yourselves would be that stupid. Oh, but wait." She tilted her head. "I forgot. Not enough brains to fill a teacup. Of course you'd be that stupid. And the thing that makes it really stupid is you probably thought you were being clever while you did it. Am I right, Checkers? Did you think you were being clever?"
"Sir, no, sir!"
"Don't lie to me, Nugget, it's just going to make me angry and you haven't seen me angry."
"Sir! We were discussing the Mark VII, sir!"
"Ah, I see. So this had nothing to do with Captain Adama, am I right?"
"Lie. But we'll get to that later. First, this is what I don't understand." She began to pace in front of them, enjoying the hunted expression in their eyes. Nuggets past and present called this her Lioness Strut. "You three should feel privileged that you even get the chance to stand on the same deck as a Mark II, let alone fly one. And trust me, if I have my way you won't have either of those privileges anymore. So I just have to know – why the greed? Why do you want to take out a Mark VII so badly? Feeling a little performance anxiety, Acheron? Have the need to make up for anatomical inadequacies, Tanker? And I don't even want to know what your motives might be, Checkers." She stopped pacing and fixed her glare on Acheron. "Answers. NOW."
The young man blanched, the flush making his blond hair seem almost white. "W-we just thought, sir, you know, it might be a good idea if we, you know-"
"No, I don't know," she interrupted him. "Stop stammering and talk!"
"We thought it might be a good idea if all pilots were allowed the opportunity to fly the Mark VII, sir!" Tanker interjected.
"I'm sorry, Tanker, did you just say you thought?" The younger man towered a good head over her, but she felt him cower as she pushed up in his face. "After you say something as stupid as that, I'm supposed to believe any of you actually know how to think?"
Standing back, she pointed to the plane behind them. "Because of my good graces, the three of you have had the rare opportunity to pilot a Mark II. You're aware of things like G-force and maneuvering capability. You think all birds are the same; once you've flown one, you've flown 'em all. Am I right?"
She didn't wait for an answer, just plowed on. "Kiddies, your ignorance is so astounding, it would make the Gods blush. The Mark II is a fine specimen of a machine, but it's a workhorse. The Mark VII is a thoroughbred. It has a thrust-to-mass ratio that would boggle your puny minds. If I were to put any of you in the cockpit of a Mark VII, you'd come back to the deck as a smudge of jelly in your flight suit. You'd literally crush yourselves with the g-forces. Do I make myself clear?"
"Sir, yes, sir!" a chorus of voices answered her.
"Good. Remember it. Now." She crossed her arms over her stomach. "That any of you would think you were capable of flying a machine as sophisticated as the Mark VII is beyond me. But then to call into question the capabilities of your CAG is beyond stupid. Congratulations, they're going to have to invent the word to describe that level of stupidity. And when they do, I'll make sure your pictures are right there next to it in the dictionary. Acheron, did I actually hear you say that Captain Adama is a poor pilot?"
"Sir, yes, sir!"
"Allow me to present Exhibit A: the fact that Captain Adama is not a smudge of jelly in his flight suit, despite his frequent outings in the Mark VII. Why is this? Because he's a captain, and you're all...?" She let the question dangle.
"Nuggets, sir," Checkers offered.
"I was going to say puddles of scum, but we'll assume Nuggets is a synonym and I'll let it pass. And Acheron, I promise you, if Hot Dog tagged Apollo during last week's war game, it was because Captain Adama allowed himself to be tagged. Do not ever presume to know the difference between a true hit and a morale booster. Do you understand? Do not ever presume to judge your senior pilots on combat tactics. They've survived this long because they know what the hell they're doing. You don't. Understood?" Silence. "I said UNDERSTOOD?"
"Sir, yes, sir!" Three voices answered.
"I doubt you do, but you'll figure it out once you've been pounded a few times by the senior pilots who call you out for being the presumptuous little halfwits you are. But before we get to that, let's take up the second bonehead point you tried to make, Acheron – you were really firing on all cylinders today, weren't you – when you said that Captain Adama was only made CAG because of his relationship with Commander Adama. Did I hear that correctly?"
"What, no yes, sir? I can understand that I suppose. You don't want to go on the record as accusing the ranking military official in the Fleet of nepotism. Do you know what nepotism is, Acheron? It's a big word, so I'll break it down slowly for you. Ne-po-ti-sm is a word that means a family member promotes another family member's welfare at the unjustified expense of those people outside the family. In other words, Commander Adama promotes Captain Adama to CAG because Captain Adama is his son. Do you understand the implications of that statement? Further, do you understand what absolute horse shit it is? Have any of you ever bothered to actually watch the CAG while he's on CAP, or better yet, in combat? Or have you all been too busy coveting his ride to pay attention to the fact that he can fly circles around your pathetic asses any day of the week; blindfolded, gagged, and submersed in raw crude. In case none of you noticed, Captain Adama became CAG because the Galactica's former CAG was killed by the Cylons. I can guarantee you that if the Captain had to choose between maintaining his status or reversing history so that his predecessor – and a score of other good pilots – weren't killed that day, he'd choose the latter in a heartbeat. Why? Because he's a good man, a good officer, and ten times better than any of you. That's why he's a captain, Checkers. Not because his last name's Adama, like you intimated earlier. Apollo earned his rank by being the best at everything he does, be it flying, negotiating, or signing his gods' damned name on every piece of worthless paper that's shoved under his nose. You should dream of being half the person he is, in the cockpit or out of it. Apollo is Apollo, and you will respect him. I might be your God in the classroom, but he is your God in command, and you will follow him without question. That means if he says jump, you ask for coordinates. If he says bark, you ask which dog. If he needs his ass wiped you're first in line to volunteer, and you say Yes, sir, thank you, sir when he's done. Because he's a captain, and you three rank on latrine duty for the next month. Do you understand?"
"Sir, yes, sir!"
"Do you understand?"
"SIR, YES, SIR!"
"Now I want you off this flight deck in five seconds before I get really angry. And just in case none of you knows how to count, I'll do it for you. One. Two. Three."
They were gone before she made it to four.
Taking a few deep breaths, Kara closed her eyes and felt herself begin to calm down. Yelling at Nuggets was an immensely satisfying experience, especially when they really deserved it. "Better than sex," she murmured dreamily.
"I'll have to keep that in mind."
Looking over her shoulder, Kara grinned at the figure leaning on the wing of the Mark II. "Shouldn't you be doing preflight?" she asked.
"My ears were burning," Lee said, grinning in return. "I had to find out why." Pushing away from the plane he moved to stand abreast with her and nodded in the direction of the departed Nuggets. "What was that all about?"
"Oh, just a little nonsense from the Nuggets, sir. It's squared away now."
"Anything I should be aware of?"
"That depends, sir."
"On how much your ears were burning."
"Let's say they lit fire when half the hanger deck heard you instructing Acheron on how to pronounce nepotism. Thanks for the lesson."
Kara couldn't resist a smug smile. "I try my best, sir."
Lee chuckled. "Thank you for defending me, but next time could you keep your voice down?"
"I'm afraid I can't promise anything, sir."
Lee turned away and ran his hand down the Mark II's wing. "What started the argument anyway?" he asked.
"They were complaining that you always fly the Mark VII and they only get Mark IIs. They seemed to think you were hogging the spotlight."
"Interesting. And your response to that was?"
"That if they climbed into a Mark VII's cockpit they'd come back looking like scrambled eggs."
"Not quite the one I gave them, but close enough. It's all breakfast related. I think I'm hungry, sir."
"When's the last time you ate?"
"I was on my way to the galley when I heard them chattering like a gaggle of hens." Tilting her head to the side, she added, "You know, they do have a point about one thing."
Lee arched an eyebrow. "Yeah? What's that?"
"You do seem to spend an awful lot of time in the Mark VII, while I seem to spend a hell of a lot of time in Mark IIs. How does that happen?"
"Because, Lieutenant, you're setting an example for the Nuggets. Because it's my plane from the Atalantia." He grinned. "And because I'm the CAG."
Kara rolled her eyes. "Whatever you say, sir. Just don't expect me to start volunteering to wipe your ass. That's strictly for the Nuggets."
"Quite an imaginative suggestion."
"An oldie but a goodie, sir."
"I'm honored you'd use it in my defense."
"Don't let it go to your head. Sir."
Lee smiled; that bright, genuine smile which always left her a little weak in the knees. "Wouldn't dream of it, Lieutenant." Standing to attention, he snapped her a salute. "Carry on, Lieutenant Thrace."
She returned the gesture in kind. "Captain."
She watched as he walked away, back towards his waiting Mark VII. She wondered if he'd given it a nickname, or if it was just another plane to him. There was something oddly endearing about picturing Lee cooing pet names to his plane while he worked on the undercarriage or double-checked the circuitry. It was something she could never picture him doing, which meant it was probably something he did when no one was watching. It was no wonder the Nuggets thought they could get away with yakking about him behind his back; three-quarters of Lee Adama was a mystery, even to her.
You should dream of being half the person he is; that was what she'd told the Nuggets. He must have heard her say it if he'd been listening in for as long as he'd claimed. She'd told him not to let it go to his head, and she knew – just knew – that he wouldn't. That was why he was CAG, and she was just a hotheaded pilot with a penchant for garnering as much punishment as she meted out.
Of course, it didn't hurt that he had a great smile. Any CAG with a great smile automatically won half his arguments, because all anyone wanted to see was that smile again. "Better than sex," she murmured, twisting her lips in a wry grin.
That was leading to treacherous territory. Good thing she didn't mind a bit of extracurricular deviancy now and then.
Turning away from the Mark II, Kara made her way towards the same exit the Nuggets had used during their hasty retreat. She heard Lee shouting something to one of the deckhands, heard the tell-tale whirl and thump of hydraulics, and couldn't keep from grinning. Those Nuggets really were the cream of the idiot crop. All anyone had to do was listen to Lee to know he was right where he belonged to be.
Oh well. She was on her way to the galley anyway. Might as well check up on their stock of bran muffins.