[USS Charon, Shuttle bay]
Ironically, even though the flightsuit was a rather snug fit compared to Starfleet's standard uniforms, Sakarra seemed to breathe just a bit more free, more easy. And if there was a contrast between the almost ceremonial way she pulled on the gloves and the tiny glint in night black eyes that to some people who had seen it before might be just a bit unsettling it was safe to assume none of the crew in the vicinity would notice.
She had resigned herself to remaining in the center chair, to watch as the shuttle and her escorts went out to learn about the creature dubbed 'Dragon' by the crew. Mostly with a slightly nervous timbre, but to the Vulcan's sharp ears there had been undertones of awe, even excitement.
However, she should have known that short of a point blank disruptor hit, nothing would keep Shiarrael t`Rehu in sickbay one second longer than absolutely necessary. And so when the CO had stormed the bridge in her usual no-nonsense manner, the Vulcan had been just a tad less surprised than everyone else.
What had been equally as surprising as gratifying was that her request to lead the fighter escorts had not only been answered in the affirmative, but with much less of a frown than anticipated. In fact, the Captain had been smirking.
Sakarra watched the Tellarite pilot board the shuttle and even Mr Athalla seemed to have weathered his recent encounter with newly manufactured liquor without too much difficulty oh, he was hung over alright. 'Faced', even. But if there was one person on board who knew precisely how much a combat pilot was able to imbibe and still be sharp as a knife once the cockpit lights began to glow, it was the dark eyed woman climbing the ladder to the Valkyrie's open canopy.
She would certainly not admit to such a thing or even be caught showing any outright favor. But after the helmet's opaque visor was closed, there was a tiny expression flickering over calm features one that could almost be described as amused. Even affectionate.
The yeoman on duty stood forlorn on the flight deck, clutching a padd and a terran flute, watching the exec settle in the pilot's seat as if she were at home and getting comfortable on her favorite couch. Not that is was unusual for the Vulcan to have a serene, almost cheerful presence about her as if she were in on some sort of universal joke that no one else was getting. It was just that ever since the Andorian had delivered this thing there had been a distinct impression of well one could hardly say humor, after all she was a pointy ear of the unemotional sort. But after the first puzzled look at the flute and then at the Andorian lady who seemed to be waiting for a thunderstorm of epic proportions, the commander had merely said a very polite thank you and looked like someone who was trying very, very hard not to chuckle. Or give someone a smack upside the head. Maybe both.
The fighters rose off the deck like leaves picked up by a gentle breeze, their impulse engines humming with constrained power. By all rights they should barrel out through the forcefield in a shower of rainbow sparks, plunge into the void with all the reckless speed their sleek forms seemed to crave. Instead, they waltzed out through the large unfurled bay doors, lazy cougars who couldn't be bothered to run yet. Might change in a hurry, though.
By comparison, the shuttle made a graceful, unceremonious exit.
Shrugging at the deck crew who apparently had nothing better to do than place bets on whether their fighter jocks would behave or not, the Argelian decided it was time for coffee. Maybe she could even watch the proceedings from Eris Deck if half the crew wasn't already glued to the windows there.
"Catch up George Three, you're sucked."
The Vulcan had long ago ceased to even try and unravel the basic rules by which fighter pilots chose names for their flights nor was she going to debate any such choices. If a legendary dragon fighting figure of human mythology was what the grinning pilots had decided to be fitting George Leader had not found it necessary to overrule their suggestion. Though it certainly helped that Vulcans by and large were above feeling silly.
The straggling fighter made a minute leap and Mr Athalla's comment was answered by a rather wry suggestion to stick certain items into dark places, but this, too, elicited barely more than an unseen brow climbing in recognition of a rowdy phrase.
Instead, Sakarra confirmed with the shuttle pilot that from here on out the Hurst should dictate their approach and kept her level gaze focused on the massive shape looming before them.
No reaction to their presence, at least none they could detect or interpret.
And thus began the phase every fighter jock loves to hate not only 'babysitting' as it were but doing so at zero speed. Interestingly enough there was little impatience in the three other pilots' voices, even though after the first thirty minutes they were already speculating how one would go about performing a bounce with a space dragon and whether they should have brought more cumshaw. In fact, the Vulcan's ears picked up a distinctive munching sound over the channel, indicating that at least one of the pilots had already begun to dive into the stash that always seemed to fit into even the tightest flight suits.
Seeing no point in either joining the conversation, thus reminding the others that 'Leader' was listening, nor interfering with activities that for combat pilots could be called outright mellow, Sakarra settled in for a wait.
Sharp eyes that by their very nature always seemed to seek a distant horizon, searching for the movement on the ground or in the air that said death or successful hunt, a silent Le-Matya waiting or only the nightly breeze making the sands dance, picked up the shapes separating from the still unmoving serpent not long after the shuttle had once more begun to move. And a mere second later there was the oh so subtle but distinct sound of three breathing patterns changing, the rapid switch from bored pilots to very interested ones, playful kittens waking from a nap to find ... prey? Toy? Cranky Rottweiler? Either way, it was going to be exciting and therefore fun.
"Whoa look at them babies fly."
"Bah, my grandma's got more speed. Belay that, my grandma's old beagle is faster."
"When you shove him down the stairs?"
"Ha. Ahaha. Well, with them ears, "
There was little use in any kind of tactical maneuver, since the creatures dubbed 'tadpoles' by the shuttle crew seemed to lack even the concept of organized flight. Even putting themselves in between the shuttle and the approaching little snakes that were not quite so small upon closer view only resulted in the fighters being surrounded.
"Cut off from the Hurst, George Leader. Targets acquired. Do we have a go?"
The voice was all business now, not quite tense but getting there. And the Vulcan watched.
"Negative, George Four. Hold fire."
The glittering shapes could have simply run them over. Overwhelmed them by numbers alone. Yet all the creatures did was zip back and forth, around them, almost as if
"Speaking of beagles. You think they wanna play?"
"Dunno. Toss them a chewtoy and let's see what happens."
"Free cruise, advance on the Hurst." Not that Sakarra disagreed with the tactical assessment, but there was a rather more important matter. Unfortunately, the 'tadpoles' interpreted the fighters moving through their gaggle as a favorable response to their antics and seemed inclined to play chase. Oh dear.
She saw the two inquisitive ones break off and make for the shuttle, but even shoving the engines into overdrive would not be enough, not by "Hurst, hold position. Do not evade."
The message never arrived, or if it did it was too late. The creatures had taken the evasive maneuver as a sign the other stranger was going to play after all. Only they had not counted on it being much less agile than they were.
The collision caught the little dragon as much by surprise as it very likely shocked the shuttle crew, and if a space faring snake could be said to have any expression at all, the one in this one's eyes could have safely been described as 'Ooops.'