Ever Slug Your CO Before?
Ever Slug Your CO Before?
Arc: None
Summary: A friendly discussion between pilot and captain.
Date: 2657.322
Related Logs: None
Participants: Dante Jenthson

The office of the 1087th Squadron Commander's office is completely empty, with boxes having been shipped out, and no replacement artifacts brought in. Pip is -still- waiting to get unshackled from this cursed temp job, so it wouldn't serve him much purpose to redecorate. As it is, Jenthson sits at the empty metal desk, with a stack of files before him, and a pipe thrust between his teeth, looking the very picture of British concentration. He is, like always, clad in his most comfortable, and beaten-up old flightsuit, one that's constant repairs show years of combat and wear-and-tear.

Dante walks in. No cowboy hat this time, of course. "First Lieutenant," addresses he in what passes for casual with this man. Gruff, sharp yet easygoing, the kind of voice that walks on glass and doesn't talk about how much it hurts. He's standing outside the officer's doorway, "Can I have a word with you, please?" His tone has a slightly ominous tone to it. Maybe this is the other boot dropping for the other day's outburst.

Standing politely, once taking the time to mark his place in the current open file, Frethan gestures toward the metal folding chair that sits across from his desk. "It is your ship, Commodore…I could not very well decline, even if I was so inclined." His tone is neutral, with little in the way to indicate what his inclination would be, in truth. "I am, at your disposal."

"Better to have power you don't use, Jenthson," Dante smiles thinly, but there's no mistaking the look on his face… that was a test. "than to use power you don't need." He takes a seat, "I'm conducting a readiness sweep of this ship, now that I've taken command of her. As acting commanding officer of the 1087th Fighter Squadron, that means I get to dump this directly into your lap."

"I do not disagree with that philosophy, of course." It is sensible, so how could one disagree? But, it is onto the readyness sweep that Pip's attention shifts, quite quickly, in truth. "Very well, Commodore. I have done my share of them in the past, and forsee no issues in an expedient completion of such a report." A pause, and his head tilts, just ever-so-slightly, as he gets comfortable in his own metal chair, smoke drifting free of his pipe. "You, I presume, are the sort of CO that would prefer an accurate, if blistering report, as opposed to the sugar-coating that some of your peers do seem to lap up?" Another silent puff on his pipe, and he concludes with…"And, every officer is interested in different facets, and have different desires out of these sort of sweeps…so, Commodore…do tell me what most concerns you?"

"Got it in one. I worked my way up from TCSF. I can read a freakin spreadsheet or a tech readout. That ain't no problem, but that stuff's a pack of lies not worth the paper it's printed on. I intend to win this war, not stack boxes and write books about it." He pitches his chair backwards, "I want to know your actual status, bullshit free. I want morale, equipment, where you feel your men are at, what they lack in skill and in equipment. I don't intend to go light on you guys because you're pull-ins. If anything, I expect 120 percent out of you and yours where I only want 110 from the 221st. We're a carrier, so squadrons are our payload."

"The 1087 has the most experienced, and the greenest pilots on the ship, Commodore. That's the truest answer that I can give you." Pip leans forward, elbows on desk, and looks squarely at the other man. "But, they're getting better with every time into the breach. Their last CO was a good man, but not a great fighting commander, and that's taken some revision." Taking his pipe from his mouth, and settling into the aluminum ashtray, he continues…"We've got the oldest equipment, no veterans, and a total lack of command staff, both subordinate…" And…he pauses just for a moment…"Well, you've met the Wing's CO." Eyes have yet to leave Dante's face, and he finishes this phase of the explanation with…"And, despite the mess that I was handed, we've inflicted as much damage, if not more, on the Kilrathi, as the 221st." And, he doesn't mention that is mostly because of his record, but alas.

Dante nods slowly, peering directly into the man with eyes like inset coals. "That's a good summary. I'll want a report. And I want to see you give the 221st a run for their money. A little friendly rivalry always hurts someone. It'll hurt someone with fur and a tail, if you ask me. And yes… you keep coming back to your commanding officer, I've noticed. Let me explain something to you, Lieutenant, because I'll be honest… I like you, but I don't approve of you one bit." He leans back into his chair, which is still pitched dangerously close to the edge, "What you did out there was inexcusable. You're a role model for your men, and they saw an outburst just like that. The entire ship did."

The Englishman doesn't look away from his superior as he continues with his retort. "My men and women saw what I intended for them to see. Their callous, incompetent Wing Commander getting a public call out for his fool antics." Reaching for his pipe, he taps it out into the tray, clearly finished with his smoke, for the moment. "I am done with playing the military politics game, Commodore. I swore that off, when they cashiered my ass." Setting his now empty pipe aside, the Lieutenant taps a finger on the empty desk for emphasis…"If you're serious about having the Majestic's payload be as explosive as it is able, you'll listen to another old hand, Sir, when I tell you…Colonel Valentine is a true threat to morale in his Wing, and thus threatens to dull the spear with which we must strike. I'll do something inexcusable, 10 times out of 10, Commodore, if it shows the ship that they have a right to competent leadership, and anything else is unacceptable."

Dante doesn't say anything at first, listening to the man, and considering his next words carefully. When he speaks, there's deliberateness to him. He points a thick index finger at the other man's face, "The most difficult part of this job is that I don't approve of most of the men that I like. You disrupted the chain of command, Lieutenant. It's not politics. It's behavior. You ever slug your CO before, Frethan?" He sits up and narrows his eyes at him, "You know. Just mosey on up and -pow-!" Dante punctuates this by punching his own palm with a balled up fist. "Because the fucker done said something stupid. Gonna get good men and women killed or shit morale down the sewer for no good reason, which is one and one as sure as it's two, if you're asking me."

"That chain has a weak link, Commodore…and if my kick in the ass strengthens it, all the better. If it doesn't…then we find someone who won't get the nuggets killed." The finger pointed at his face is ignored, and the Lieutenant answers the question as directly as it was offered. "If I was to resort to fisticuffs, it would be with the fat Commodore that sold me out, to further his own ambition, sir. Barring that, our illustrious CAG is merely nearing the line." Hands remain flat on on the desk, now, and the Englishman smiles slightly. "I do believe that the majority of our pilots were rather pleased with Valentine being confronted. Sometimes, it takes an officer unconcerned about his own career, to speak the truth so that it may be heard."

"Should try it some time, Lieutenant." Dante's lower lip presses over his upper, the man looking surly for a moment, "I did. It's why I ain't yelling or throwing my weight around none. Don't think I need to. I reckon you're not paying close attention, though. I'm the ship's captain. I ain't the Wing Commander. Why do you suppose it's me talking to you about the report you owe me in" He checks the imaginary watch he's not wearing on his wrist, "48 hours and not your boss, hrm? I don't believe in taking apart a functional machine. I've assumed command on plenty of vessels and I know when to leave well enough alone."

"You coming to the Squadron Commanders, rather than asking for a report from Valentine allows me to infer one of two things, possibly both, Commodore. You either don't trust him to give an accurate report, or you don't consider him competent to provide one. Either way, you've stepped outside the chain of command, yourself." A slight pause, and then Pip's diving right back in. "Either way. Sometimes a machine is fully functional, save for one slightly warped cog that proceeds to rip the guts out of the aforementioned machine without warning. Well, Commodore…we're lucky enough to have that cog flagged…don't let it surprise you." Jenthson stands leans back in his own seat now, finishing with…"I've done my homework on you, sir. I hear good things. That's why I am telling you upfront: If you want a proper, regulations-obsessed officer, kick my ass off of the Majestic…." A tilted eyebrow, and he continues…"But, if you want the best Kilrathi-killing sonofabitch in the 12th Fleet teaching your reservist squadron how to play with the kittens…you'll let me write this report, and get back to my primary function. Showing my people how to kill the bastards, and survive doing it."

"Don't insult my intelligence, Lieutenant." Dante folds his arms over his chest, "We still seem to be having a miscommunication problem. I like subtle when I can get away with it. Seems like I can't. I know why you did what you did. You can pretty it up like a summer barbeque all you like, but what you did was make me look bad. Me. Because I was standing right there. Did you think I might not notice what happened? Because if you did, that might explain the outburst. I wouldn't notice that, either. But it don't look that way now. He and I are going to have a very long talk and he will be very lucky if his uniform isn't any lighter when we're done. But you know… I like subtle. Do you think anyone on this ship won't know what it means when rather than privately ask him to my office, I page him? You want to live under my command, keep your eyes open, think a bit more. Maybe you'll make Captain."

"At that very moment, Commodore….just how you looked was rather unimportant to me. My pilot bleeding out, while he screamed for his beloved Major Cans was something that needed to stop." Standing from his chair, Frethan looks at his quite real watch, and frowns slightly. "I have some nuggets that need to be shown the ropes in about fifteen minutes, sir." A pause, and the old Lieutenant is clearly intent on not being late to what he considers an actual important duty. "Subtlety isn't a strength of mine. It never has been, and in my old age, it merely slips further and further away. As for Captain…I've been there, and done that. Effectively enough…but I'm not dying to do it again. I just want to teach kids how to kill Kilrathi, and do a bit of it myself."

"Jenthson," remarks Dante as he rises to his feet, "You are a sorry, -sorry- excuse for a brit." He smirks to himself and shakes his head, "If you don't trust your captain, then he is not going to trust you. It'll turn out worse for you in the long run and the short run. Take my word for that. You're dismissed. Go round up your sticks." He turns to leave the office.