Note: I wrote this because of three lines of dialogue. One belongs to Professor X, who said it at the end of the irritating episode "Joyride": "The military must believe it was a UFO sighting, so they're no doubt covering it up." Thus making them the dumbest military in the world. The other two belong to Harm and Bud, respectively, and are from the wonderful episode "Retreat, Hell" : "Do you ever see things?" "Like UFOs, sir?"
The title, of course, comes from my favorite Stan Lee/Marvel Comics phrase: "Face front, True Believer!" Ah, the muse is silly today...
FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA
"Earth to Lieutenant Roberts... Bud!"
Bud jumped slightly, startled by the voice, and looked up with guilt written all over his face. "I'm sorry, sir, I didn't hear you."
Commander Rabb, who was standing in the office doorway and looking a trifle impatient, raised his eyebrows at the excuse. "I'll say. What's so interesting?"
"Oh. Nothing really, sir," he said, trying to shuffle the papers he'd been reading into a stack of legal briefs. The commander, however, was faster - probably because he spent half his time as a fighter pilot - and plucked the papers up. Bud waited in slightly pained silence as the other officer skimmed the material.
"UFOs again," the commander said, amused. "Where'd you get this from, National Enquirer?"
"No sir," Bud said with a frown. "I got it from a friend in Nevada."
Before he could elaborate further, Colonel MacKenzie appeared in his office door. "Harm, have you seen the Banner deposition?"
"If it's in your office, no. I can't find a damn thing in there," Commander Rabb answered, giving her a sidelong grin. Bud relaxed marginally. So maybe they weren't quite back to the good old days, but at least his two mentors weren't fighting every time they were in the same room together.
"What's this?" the colonel asked, reading over the commander's shoulder.
"It's an account of a UFO sighting in Nevada, ma'am," Bud said. "A National Guard pilot saw a black aircraft fly straight through a mesa."
Now it was the colonel who raised her eyebrows. "Through a mesa?"
"Like it wasn't even there, ma'am." He stood and walked around the desk to point out the relevant lines of text in the papers.
The commander shook his head. "From the description, this 'UFO' sounds like an SR-71."
"But it flew through solid rock, sir. What Blackbird can do that? Besides, I checked. None of the SR-71s still operational were flying that night." Neither the colonel nor the commander looked impressed, so he kept going. "The pilot also said the UFO just appeared out of nowhere - the radar was blank one second, and then bang, there it was."
"Maybe his instrument panel was in Russian," the colonel said lightly, with a suppressed grin in the commander's direction. Bud glanced at him, then her, and realized she was referring to that time she and Commander Rabb had stolen a MiG in Russia and then had been shot down. Wow, that had been years ago... They probably wouldn't get away with that kind of stuff anymore. Maybe that was why they hadn't done anything adventurous - meaning "illegal" - lately.
He shook his head slightly, getting back on track, and continued, "When they fired on it, strange lights came out of the top and made the missiles retarget."
The commander chuckled. "It's called chaff, Bud."
The patronizing tone wounded, but he forged ahead with his trump card. "And there was an unexplained rockfall as they were pursuing the craft through a canyon, forcing them to veer away and letting the UFO escape."
"Coincidence." Colonel MacKenzie took the papers out of the commander's hand and gave them back to Bud. "Think like a lawyer, Bud. There's one witness - who could easily be lying - and no evidence... can you really put any faith in this account?"
They didn't get it. Bud sighed, trying to figure out how to explain. "But it is faith, ma'am. You have to believe."
The colonel raised her eyebrows again and smiled, politely and clearly dismissing the whole thing. "Well, I believe that I need to find the Banner deposition before noon, which leaves me one hour and thirty-seven minutes."
"I'll help," the commander offered, giving her a quick smile. She smiled back over her shoulder. Bud caught the expression and smiled himself. Things were definitely more normal around the JAG bullpen, and that could only be good.
Before he left, the commander pointed at the papers and warned, "Better not let Admiral Chegwidden catch you with this stuff. And I need a copy of the witness list for tomorrow. The Rogers court-martial."
"No sir - I mean, yes sir," Bud said absently. He was more focused on the papers in his hands. He was pretty sure the source was reliable, but there were a lot of hoaxes, and he'd never actually met the guy...
Commander Rabb and Colonel MacKenzie were probably right, he decided with a reluctant sigh. He sat down again and placed the account of the UFO chase in his desk drawer, right next to the newspaper story about angel sightings in New York City during Christmas, and then he got back to work.