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I Feel the Need... (Rigel Cup 2390)

Posted: Sat Mar 28, 2015 8:35 pm
by Ori Paiga
((OOC: This thread will be open to whoever wants to join, though there are only 4 NPC squadmates available. Tyrlai did show interest in being a squadmate, so she has first dibs. If you join, you can create your own NPC that will help win the Cup. I'm thinking of something along the lines of this episode but without killing or getting anyone punished. I'll leave it open a bit after the first post to see who joins. I'll post again over the weekend, then it'll be more regular once I know who's participating.))

Please see the OOC thread for further OOC discussion:

Re: I Feel the Need... (Rigel Cup 2390)

Posted: Sat Mar 28, 2015 8:36 pm
by Fergus Notham
Rigel System
Starbase 134
Main Hangar
During the annual Rigel Cup
4 hours to Delta's run

Authors: Sera Williams, Fergus Notham (played by Tyrlai Zade)

The hanger was full of the hustle and bustle of the Rigel Cup. It kept the hanger full of activity. There were fighters flying in and out. The ships of choice this year seemed to be a varient of the Valkyrie-class fighters, just like Delta's own Orcas. The news media interviewed various squads as they finished their runs and mechanics were running around with some degree of chaos. Somehow in her team's corner of their world, there was a calm. Sera embraced her quiet bubble. From her vantage, she could even see the broadcast booth. Right now, they were sending this race along with a number of sensor buoys that would transmit this race to all corners of the Federation through subspace.

Her squad was still a few hours away from being called to their ship. Sera always liked to arrive a bit early to perform pre-flight diagnostics and calibrations to make sure everything was in order. The ships would need to be in top shape to be ready for planned flight path. The path called for Delta Squad to pass by six of the twelve planets, through both of the asteroid belts with the inner and most difficult belt twice, followed by a close buzz of the corona of one of Rigel's stars, then finishing with a nice landing back in the hanger. That didn't mention the tricks and maneuvers that were spread throughout the run. The judges had given the preliminary difficulty of the run a ten, which was the highest of this year's tournament.

According to their speeds, full impulse reaching 1/2 the speed of light or Warp 0.5,e entire run would take less than thirty minutes. The shields, thrusters, and engines of these Valyrie-class fighters needed to perfect. Sera stood with her sleeves rolled up and more than a helping of engine lubricant smeared on her flight suit.

Sera kept an eye on the incoming scores of the teams that had finished were quiet promising. Each had made more than a few mistakes, and some had even managed to disable a few of their own with careless maneuvers. Even the ones that had made good runs didn't have the difficulty multiplier to win the Cup. If her team did their job and executed, they should walk away as Champions. That thought caused Sera more nervousness than she let on, though she had to admit that she was a bit excited. She knew that in a few moments, her squad would be flying on the edge of a knife.

Fergus Notham shuffled out from the men's room looking paler than usual. He worked his way next to Sera and nervously stammered. "I shouldn't have had lunch. Why do they even let cadets do this, it's too dangerous, there should be a rule or something." He looked at Sera hopefully, thinking perhaps such a rule would in fact be implemented in the next few minutes. Fergus had always been a bundle of nerves right up to the point they were actually flying. Then for some reason, as soon as the Orca's lurched forward he was fine, as if his jumbled nerves reached a breaking point and shorted out leaving him completely calm.

Re: I Feel the Need... (Rigel Cup 2390)

Posted: Sat Mar 28, 2015 8:41 pm
by Alenis Meru
Enter the Blue Eagles
Starbase 134, Main Hangar
Rigel Cup, Day 1, morning

When Shusas sh’Tira strolled into the hangar, she did so in a confident manner. The Andorian was the top seed this year and was the odds on favourite to win the Rigel Cup, and she wasn’t afraid to admit it. Wearing their silver and blue flightsuits bearing the logo of the Blue Eagles as well as a few patches representing the corporate sponsors that Hamok, their Ferengi team manager, had managed to scrounge up, their entrance made even people hard at work on their spacecraft turn heads.

Not only did the Blue Eagles have style, but they had a record to back it up. Shusas was a top quality pilot, having served in the 1st Air Wing of the Andorian Imperial Guard, widely reputed to be the best of the best when it comes to fighter pilots. She had set a lap record the year before and nearly won, but a blown plasma injector dropped her down to third place. This year, though, things would be different. Partnering with Hamok, she was able to get enough media exposure corporate sponsorship for her team that she was easily the most well-funded racer in the cup.

“Rostrenen T’Sering, Federation News Service,” stated a reporter who was waiting at the door for the entrance of the Blue Eagles as she strode alongside Shusas and her team – consisting of Shusas, Hamok, a tall Nausicaan named Vekijek, and an Orion woman known as Nara. “Ms. sh’Tira, you set a course record during the qualifying round. How do you feel about your chances this year?”

“My chances?” asked Shusas, removing her sunglasses. “I think they should just cancel the race and mail me the trophy. It would save all these chumps some time.”

“What about Nova Squadron? Or the Sehlats? The Vulcans are rumoured to be fielding a strong--”

“I got a message for Tovan and his so-called Sehlats,” interrupted Shusas, a certain viciousness in her tone. “I hope you like the back of my ship, because you’re going to be seeing a lot of it. As for Nova Squadron, they haven’t been competitive since the days of Nick Locarno, and we all know what happened to him.”

“How do you feel about the rule changes this year, with the--”

“There will be time for questions when I’m holding the cup,” interrupted Shusas. “I’ve got a race to prepare for.” Vekijek stared down at the reporter menacingly, leaving her with no doubt that Shusas was done talking.

Getting the picture, Rostrenen turned back towards the camera. “Tough words from a tough competitor. For the Federation News Service, I’m Rostrenen T’Sering.”

Re: I Feel the Need... (Rigel Cup 2390)

Posted: Sat Mar 28, 2015 8:43 pm
by Eilis Ross
The night before...
Rigel System
Starbase 134
The Night before the Rigel Cup

Authors: Eoghan O'Connor (played by Eilis Ross), Nara (played by Alenis Meru)

Sauntering into the bar, Nara looked like she was there to have a good time. But the Blue Eagles didn't rely on luck to win, and one of their assets was superior intelligence. And, when it came to gathering intelligence on cocky flyboys, Nara was definitely their biggest asset. She peered across the bar, sizing up her targets. There were a few teams gathered at tables, but while she could no doubt get their attention, she worked best when her targets were alone.

Sitting at the bar, she found her prey. A tall human, drinking alone. He looked like a flyboy -- somehow, Nara was able to tell. Seeing an empty bar stool next to him, she took advantage of the opportunity, sitting down next to the man and ordering herself a samarian sunset. Out of the corner of her eye, she observed her target and subtle things like his choice of drink, his body movements, and his fixation on the entertainment screens, building up a veritable psychological profile on him before either of them spoke one word to the other.

As the bartender placed the drink in front of her, she nodded in appreciation and slipped a small vial into her drink, a little chemical which would counteract her pheromone inhibitors. If things worked as well as she hoped, it would be the last drink that she would buy that night. She took a sip of the mediocre drink. "Mmmmm, that's so good!" she exclaimed, getting the attention of the man seated beside her.

"Hi, I'm Nara," she said in a sweet and somewhat sultry voice. "What are you drinking?"

Eoghan ignored the woman for a moment as he tossed back the short of whiskey he'd been given and gently tapped it on the bar to indicate that he wanted more. The pilot knew that he had to be careful, he was expecting the call any day soon to join an elite group but until then...what was the harm in a little bit of fun.

On the subject of a little bit of fun, Eoghan finally turned his seat a little to look the woman who had approached him from head to toe. She was a cute little thing...He could very easily see where the confidence lay, he had yet to meet an Orion girl who wasn't confident in her looks and...abilities...This could turn out to be fun.

"Whiskey....Has quite a kick if you ain't used to it Sugar."

"Ah, an Earther," she replied, leaning over slightly to look down at the clear brown liquid swirling in the glass, and, of course, give her target a bit of a view. "You're far from home, and you don't look like the typical Starfleet dweeb. Are you here to watch the races?"

Eoghan’s eyes drank in his fill before his navy blue eyes looked up to stare into the depths of the girl’s black ones. “Watch the races perhaps but if the coin is flipped on the right side, I may yet end up actually getting to take part.”

"Ooooh, a flyboy!" exclaimed Nara. Target acquired. "I love these aerobatic competitions, just the power and the speed is so... exhilarating," she said, emphasizing the last word in a sexy voice. "What team are you with? Tyson's Tigers, perhaps?"

Eoghan couldn't wipe the smirk from his face at the alien's response. It was a very well known fact that women trailed the pilots around the circuits, bunny boilers was the word he's heard use. The excitement and the exhilaration that the drivers felt during their matches; the woman were a good value to drive it all through. "Delta Squad, actually. You have a favorite do you?"

"Well, I am a fan of the Blue Eagles," she replied. Technically it wasn't a lie. "Delta Squad, is that the team from Starfleet Academy this year?" she asked, knowing that the answer already. While the academy teams hadn't won since the days of Nick Locarno's Nova Squadron, they were getting better and better every year. The more intelligence she could use her unique talents to gather tonght, the better of a situation she would be in tomorrow. "What are you running this year? Raptors? Peregrines? Valkyries?"

Raising his eyebrow at the question, Eoghan tilted his head to the side as his fingers gently caressed his glass, "Now why would you be bothering your pretty little mind with information like that? All you need to know is that this year we are guaranteed a win..."

Taking a sip of his whiskey, the pilot studied the woman a brief moment more, "You could put those lips to a lot better work than asking questions you know sugar?"

Nara smiled mischeviously. "Perhaps. But nothing gets me in the mood like a man telling me about his fighter."

Laughing at this, Eoghan moved in closer as he moved his cold fingers from his glass and traced them along the length of the Nara’s arm. “There’s a lot more to a man then his fighter sweetheart. There’s also a lot more to use to get you in the mood.”

"Oh?" asked Nara, raising an eyebrow. She decided that if he wasn't going to talk freely, she would have to go to plan B. She placed a hand on his shoulder and leaned in, whispering in his ear. "I might like to see that..."

As a smile broadened across Eoghan’s lips, a twinkle entered his eyes as he threw back the last of his whiskey. “Your place or mine? I’ll arrange the ice...”

"Yours," whispered Nara, running her left hand down Eoghan's arm and reaching for the rest of her drink with the other.

Eoghan’s Quarters

As Eoghan lead the Orion by the hand, he spun her around once the door had closed and pinned her up against the bulkhead, “ were saying sugar?”

By now, Nara's pheromones were in full effect. Her heart was pounding, and she could feel the power in Eoghan's muscles pinning her against the wall. "Kiss me, flyboy," she said softly and lustfully.

Eoghan growled low in his throat as he felt the female’s body against his and heard her words in his ear. Moving his head, the flyboy trapped Nara’s lips against his as he used his lips and gently nips of his teeth to extract a response.

Passionately, Nara kissed Eoghan back, as she tried to reach for her secret weapon. With Eoghan pinning her against the wall, she offered no more than a token playful resistance, hesitant to ruin the mood and spoil the entire operation. "Flyboy," she said during a break in the action, "Release my arms, I want to show you something."

Smiling against the Orion’s lips, Eoghan playfully tightened his hold on her wrists before releasing them from his grip. “Promises promises promises...If you don’t make good on your promise then I’ll have to use more than my hands next time sugar.”

"Oh, I promise you won't forget this for a long time," replied Nara, a smile beginning to appear on her face as she reached for his shirt. With animal-like passion, she pulled the front of it apart, sending the buttons of the dress shirt flying in every which direction. After pausing for a moment to admire his physique, she pushed her hands underneath his shirt and around his back, running them up and down his spine as she kissed him gently on the neck, then again and again, moving steadily towards his mouth.

Eoghan felt his legs begin to buckle as his hands moved around to cup Nara’s from behind and pull her in hard against him. Arching his neck back to give her better access, his breathing became more laboured as the passion flowed through his veins. “You’ll...” the pilot gasped as she hit a spot and tried to think of what he’d wanted to say. “You’ll need to do better....”

"Oh, flyboy," she said, before going in for one last passionate kiss. Pulling one of her hands away from her target, she reached into a small pocket for a miniature hypospray. "I'm so sorry," she said, injecting him on the neck with a fast-acting sedative.

As Eoghan felt the coldness against his neck, it took a moment for the sensation to register. “Wh...” Not even able to open his eyes or finished his words, the pilot crumbled to the ground in an unconscious state.

"Works every time," muttered Nara as she went to work. Looking around the room, she spotted a couple PADDs on the nightstand, no doubt containing some highly prized intelligence on Delta Squad and their routine. After doing a quick search of the room for any additional documentation, including picking the lock and rummaging through his vault, she looked back to the pilot passed out on the ground. It was almost too easy.

Re: I Feel the Need... (Rigel Cup 2390)

Posted: Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:13 pm
by Alenis Meru
T-minus four hours...
Main Hangar, Starbase 134, Rigel System
February 2390, During the annual Rigel Cup
4 hours to Delta's run

Authors: Sera Williams, Fergus Notham (played by Tyrlai Zade), Eoghan O'Connor (played by Eilis Ross), T'Kara (played by Jason Beauvoir), Judith Rouse (Played by Alenis Meru)

Last time...

Fergus Notham shuffled out from the men's room looking paler than usual. He worked his way next to Sera and nervously stammered. "I shouldn't have had lunch. Why do they even let cadets do this, it's too dangerous, there should be a rule or something." He looked at Sera hopefully, thinking perhaps such a rule would in fact be implemented in the next few minutes. Fergus had always been a bundle of nerves right up to the point they were actually flying. Then for some reason, as soon as the Orca's lurched forward he was fine, as if his jumbled nerves reached a breaking point and shorted out leaving him completely calm.

And now, the continuation...

Sera couldn't help but smile at Fergus. "I think you missed a spot," she jokingly motioned toward her flightsuit under the collar bone. Fergus had, of course, not dirtied his suit but she couldn't resist. As she was about the say something else, she noticed the Blue Eagles make their grand entrance. Sera rolled her eyes and sarcastically said, "Now the party can finally start."

Holding his head, Eoghan let out a loud groan as he moved up to his flight mates. "Did anyone get the registration number of the fighter that hit me..." Rubbing his eyes, the cadet shielded his eyes as the light suddenly hit them and near blinded him. "Also can someone get someone to turn down the lighting a couple of decimals?!?"

T'Kara swore in a bizarre mixture of Kligonese and pre-Surakian Vulcan, almost scaring the life out of a group of engineers and flight techs. Someone had taken her lucky charm from her fighter again. The item in question was a small piece of duranium alloy that had been pulled from her leg after a shuttle crash. It had come within microns of severing her femoral artery. Noticing it now laying on a work table, she grabbed the nearest tech by the collar and lifting him off the deck. He struggled, but she was too strong. "This is mine." She growled at him as she retrieved her charm. Then with a smile the Klingon/Vulcan hybrid lit go of the man, who landed heavily on his ass.

Eoghan felt the pain in his head intensify as the alien's language bombarded his ears. His eyes were closed but it was difficult to miss the sound of a body hitting the ground and a grown man whimpering. "Seriously....It wouldn't kill you to be a bit quieter T'Kara!"

"No, but it wouldn't be as much fun. Besides, it's not my problem that you can't handle your liquor or its effects." T'Kara replied without sympathy, as she made her way back to her fighter.

"I didn't even drink that much...." Eoghan grumbled it under his breath as he rubbed his head. The missing PADDs when we woke this morning, minus a certain Orion also, gave him his answer to what had happened but how to tell the Boss that he'd screwed up....the pilot still hadn't figured that one out yet.

"Something tells me you didn't have the synthale last night," Sera said as she lifted herself to a seated position atop some cargo containers. She jokingly patted the open spot next to her and gave a sarcastic smile as she finished, "Why don't you tell momma what happened." Sera had seen that look on Eoghan's face before, and knew that he wasn't telling her something important. You didn't get to be squad leader if you didn't know your teammates enough to know if something was bothering them.

Eoghan tilted his head back a little as his 6 foot frame was shorter than the stack. As he listened to the bosses words, fear struck his mind as he realised she had cottened on to there being something wrong.

Trying to think quick, he moved up to sit beside her before wrapping his arm around her waist and pulled her in closer as he leaned in to whisper in her ear, "Why would there be anything wrong? Are you looking for excuses to get me on my own again?"

Sera gave the man a playful punch on the shoulder as she slid away from his grip. She then retorted, "Again? I wasn't aware there was a first time?"

Sera shook of her feeling that something was wrong with Eoghan, and jumped back on the ground. She gestured for her teammates to gather around as she kneeled beside her backpack. She pulled out a few PADDs and handed them to the teammates assembled, "This is our flight plan. There is one rule... guard it with your life." With a joking laugh, Sera then leaned against one of the Valkries and asked, "Any questions about our plan?"

Eoghan let out a breath as he caught glimpse of the rival team across the hanger from his vantage point. Quickly hopping down to rejoin his team he wasn't certain how much longer he could keep the secret. They were going to realise that something was up at some point.

Taking the offered PADD, he studied the plan carefully before speaking up, "Who's taking which position?"

"I don't care which position I get..." T'Kara said approaching the others. " long as it's as far from O'Connor as possible, I don't trust a man, who can't hold his liquor."

Rolling his eyes, Eoghan choose to ignore his supposed team mates comments as he focused on Sera. "If I didn't know how to fly and fly right I wouldn't be here. Remember that T'Kara."

T'Kara just grunted noncommittally.

"Enough!" Slowly walking towards the group of gathered pilots, using a cane for support, was 1st Lieutenant Judith Rouse of the Starfleet Marine Corps. Not medically cleared to fly after her accident but begging to be returned to duty, the SFMC arranged a special assignment for her: coach of Delta Squad, some of the most promising aviators at Starfleet Academy, as they went for the Rigel Cup. It was bittersweet for her, training young pilots when she herself couldn't fly anymore, but she had built up a bond with the cadets under her, even being referred to as "Sensei Judith" by them, a nickname she took as a badge of honour. "We're on in four hours. This is no time to argue amongst yourselves. Let's get to the briefing room to review our routine one more time."

Re: I Feel the Need... (Rigel Cup 2390)

Posted: Sun Sep 20, 2015 5:34 am
by Alenis Meru
Starbase 134
Rigel system
One hour to Delta's run
Authors: Nara (played by Alenis Meru), Kahnr Dai, T'Kara (played by Jason Beauvoir)

As she strolled through the pits, Nara's eyes darted back and forth. It was not just piloting skill that kept the Blue Eagles at the top of their game; a little intelligence about their rivals never hurt. And Nara's feminine charms were definitely an asset when it came to gathering intelligence. For example, she had found out the night before that the Academy team this year was definitely stronger than expected. The fact that they would even attempt such a complex routine showed that they had the confidence and likely the skills to do well. Not to mention that schematics and modification logs showed that their ships were an advanced version of the already powerful Orca fighter.

Coming up on Delta Squad's pit area, she saw herself an opening. With most of the squad missing, presumably either reviewing their routine or catching a bite, only one man stood between her and the squad's shuttles. She pressed a button, activating a small communicator on her wrist. "Hamok, procedure 49. Delta Squad."

"Confirmed. ETA two minutes," responded the Ferengi voice in her hidden earbud.

Nara smiled and adjusted her tight-fitting flightsuit as she strolled over towards her target. Locking eyes with him, she figured creating the diversion that Hamok needed would be child's play.

Kahnr stood nearby his squadron's ships, reviewing the last detailed diagnostic report before he made his own report to the squadron's CO. Well, it wasn't really his squadron, and the fact of that made him feel a little uneasy. Omicron Squadron, the third year cadet team, was the one he was the CO of normally. They'd done great throughout the contest so far, but came up short in the qualification at the end. The sudden illness of Delta Squadron's XO had resulted in him being tapped for the job.

The woman approaching had made some very direct eye contact, and the large, muscular Betazoid smiled back. He looked a bit lazy, his posture so relaxed, and wondered what one of their rivals was doing here so close to launch time.

"Hey handsome," started Nara in a suggestive tone. With a wave of her hand, he moved her long, flowing hair aside, drawing attention to her face. She then bit her lip flirtatiously and lowered her eyelashes, striking a seductive pose. "Nice Orca."

The Betazoid laughed for a moment. He wasn't actually responding to the overt flirting, at least not in the way that might be expected. The cadet's posture relaxed until he was almost slouching, and he kept a smile on his lips, "Thanks. Built it with my own two hands." Yeah. Right. It didn't take a mind reader to tell what she looked like she was after, and though he actually was one he didn't spy. Black eyes watched her curiously, and though he recognised her as one of the pilots from the opposing team, the Blue Eagles, that didn't mean he was going to be impolite. "Something I can help you with, ma'am?"

"Oh," Nara blushed on command, "sorry, it's just not every day that you see such an attractive piece of tech." Stepping closer towards Kahnr, she ran her hand over the ship, carressing it carefully. "Let me guess, Kjellman Mk. 5b thrust vectoring systems, and a high-powered inertial dampening system?"

"Mark 5c, actually," Kahnr said as he leaned a shoulder against the craft, watched her, and apparently missed the innuendo. That was what she wanted, right? To be watched as she behaved this way. "Not that there's much improvement no matter what the specs might say. Gyroscopic reactions are up about six percent though, which I guess is pretty nice. What are you flying, ma'am?"

"Valkyries," she replied, running a hand over the forward fuselage of Kahnr's ship. With her other hand, she drew down the zipper of her flightsuit. "Of course, they've had some... enhancements. You don't become the best in the galaxy with a bog-standard Valkyrie."

"Best in the galaxy, you say? That's a bold claim considering we haven't actually explored the entire galaxy yet." Kahnr followed Nara as she went along the fighter, his eyes watching.

It was at that moment that T'Kara entered hanger. Sizing up the scene immediately she approached the two. "Hey Kahnr, is this Orion dog bothering you?" Asked the well toned Vulcan-Klingon hybrid.

"Bothering? Not at all. We've been having a pleasant chat." Kahnr said with a lopsided grin for T'Kara. Things weren't entirely as bad as they seemed, though Kahnr's go with the flow attitude certainly made it look that way. "Attempting to use her wiles to wrap me around her lovely green fingers? Most definitely." The Betazoid turned that smile back to the opposing team's pilot and gave her an apologetic shrug, "Not that you aren't obviously very skilled ma'am - I imagine that with a swish and a twist you could get just about any man to drop what he's doing and stare - but I prefer company of a different sort and I do not mean of the female persuasion. It was a very flattering attempt though."

Nara sighed as her plan fell apart in front of her. She thought she had the Betazoid pegged, but unfortunately for her Kahnr was immune to her charms. With a subtle motion of the wrist, she activated a signal to Hamok, telling him to abort the plan. There was no way for her to distract him. "Well, that's a shame," she said, concealing her disappointment. "I don't suppose you're into the 'female persuasion' either?" asked Nara, looking towards T'Kara in a last ditch attempt to deploy her secret weapon on someone on the Delta Squad team.

"I'm into the 'female persuasion', I'm just not into you. You are attractive, but you're also the enemy and therefore I can not trust you." T'Kara told her. "Besides nobody likes being second choice. Now run along, I'm sure you have people to seduce and nefarious schemes to hatch."

"Aw, does she really have to go so soon?" Kahnr asked, staring at Nara with a slight pout and a sad look on his face. "I was learning so much from watching her. Those were some really nice moves, ma'am. Do you think that after the race we might get together to swap notes? I mean, if you're not too upset after we crush you out there, ma'am?"

"I wouldn't worry about that," replied Nara, her flirty tone being replaced by a more serious one. "The Blue Eagles never lose." With that, she turned her back on Kahnr and T'Kara and returned to her pit.

Re: I Feel the Need... (Rigel Cup 2390)

Posted: Sun Sep 20, 2015 5:37 am
by Alenis Meru
Ready to Rumble...
Main Hangar, Starbase 134, Rigel System
February 2390, During the annual Rigel Cup
Call to start, Delta Squad and Blue Eagles
Authors: Sera Williams, Fergus Notham (played by Tyrlai Zade), Eoghan O'Connor (played by Eilis Ross), T'Kara (played by Jason Beauvoir), Shusas sh'Tari & the Blue Eagles (played by Alenis Meru)

As the top two qualifying teams, Delta by season point total and Eagles by defending champion and points, the two squads were set to finish up this year's Rigel Cup. All of the other teams had finished, but none of them had finished with an unbeatable time and score. These two squads had finished higher in the qualification runs.

Delta squad was set to go first, their Valkyries were moved to the starting line and set in a straight line parallel to the start. Sera stood in front of her team. Her hair was pulled back with her ponytail pulled into her flight suit, her uniform spotless and neat. She was ready to go, this was what the team had worked towards all year. Sera gave her team a once over, and said, "Guys, this is it. This is the Rigel Cup. If that doesn't motivate you to lay it all out there, nothing I say can get you ready. All we have to do is fly like I know we can and execute the plan. Stick together and we will see the biggest celebration in the last 20 years back in San Francisco."

She was never one for big time speaches, so she just simply turned around to face the gathered crowd. They were in a fever pitch. The lights from the various galactic news and sports organizations' holocameras were almost blinding. The crowd seemed to represent the entire Alpha Quadrant, each cheering on their favorite team. Some were jeering the two gathered squads and others were cheering.

"Oh?" interjected Hamok, a short, sneering Ferengi in the distinctive blue and silver jumpsuits of the Blue Eagles, who were on deck for the next run. "They really celebrate silver medals that much at the academy?"

Stepping up beside him, Nara decided to hit at least one of the members of the Delta Squad where it huts. "Mr. O'Connor," she called out, "I hope for you're sake you're a better pilot than you are with the ladies."

Eoghan froze as he heard that voice, one which would haunt him for years to come. He didn't turn around to search out her face, he wouldn't give her the satisfaction. Instead he just held his head up higher as he surveyed each and everyone of his squad, proud of them and their achievement to get so far. He would see the other team crushed...for his team and for his own pride.

Fergus didn't have any pride, he raised his hand and spoke. "Hi, Nara," he said, in a quiet unassuming and slightly squeaky voice. She looked a bit caught off guard that the thin, twitchy cadet had deigned to speak to her. The others laughed and one of them threw a vibrospanner at him which glanced off his head making him yelp and rub his temple.

T'Kara bared her teeth at the Orion. They were a poisonous race, with skin the colour of an infected wound. "Don't worry about our flying, you just worry about eating our ion trails." T'Kara said. She then adopted a lighter tone and a fake smile. "Best of luck, by the way, I hope you don't break a nail or a limb. Toodles."

"Yes, good luck to you too," shot back Nara, flanked by Vekijek, the two metre tall Nausicaan member of the squad. "You'll need it, this course isn't for beginners."

With a fake friendly smile, Sera responded, "I bet it'd be pretty embarrassing to lose to a couple of cadets. If we lose, we lose to the number one team with so many years of experience." She gave a light shrug, then continued, "It would be a shame."

"Fortunately, that is something we won't have to worry about," interjected a powerful Andorian voice, from partway across the room.

Shusas sh'Tira was not the most physically intimidating member of the Blue Eagles. Nor was she the craftiest, or the most voluptuous. But she had a certain undeniable confidence, which gave her a presence far greater than her physical stature. She was their squad leader, and her orders went unquestioned. And, given her stature in the sport, when she talked, people listened.

"Ah, Delta Squad," she called out as she strode rapidly towards Sera, not stopping until she was but a few inches from her face. "You did well in the qualifying rounds, I'll give you that. But today is the Blue Eagles' day. We've spent years climbing up to the top of this sport, and we're not going to let our championship slip away to a bunch of cadets. We've been flying since you were playing with toy starships. You can put on a nice little show, maybe the sort of show that your mothers would tell their girlfriends about over tea, but that gold medal -- and the prize money -- is ours."

Sera knew better than to get into a fight just before launch, the last thing they needed was to be disqualified from competition this close to their run. With a smile and voice that showed that she had not been rattled, she replied with her best fake enthusiasm, "We had some pretty awesome toy starships. I had one that had real working lights!"

"Well then," replied Shusas, sneering in Sera's face, "I think it best that you stick to what you know best and leave the real starships to the grown ups."

"Will do," Sera replied, with a hint of sarcasm in her voice. "Say, you may want to talk to the medical advisor, I know they offer a variety of geriatric medicines," she added with false concern for Shusas' health.

Interrupting some rather entertaining verbal sparring he'd heard on the approach, Kahnr flashed a bright smile at both Sera and Shusas, and he spoke with such friendliness. It had to be mockery, right? "Hello! Just wanted to let you know, Williams, we've finished. Engine checks look good. I'd say we're all set."

Until the last qualifying round, Kahnr had been another fight leader, the second runner up Omicron Squadron. A year behind Delta Squadron, the third-years had given their upper classmen a run for their money. A sudden sickness of one of Delta's pilots had left them a man short, so he'd been tapped to take their place. He turned his big smile to Shusas and asked with such innocence that it had to be mockery, "Do you think I could get a holo-picture with you before the race? My squadron is such a big fan."

"Perhaps afterwards," replied Shusas, not sure if this new entrant was kidding or not. "I think the holo-picture would look better with a gold medal around my neck, wouldn't you agree?" Before Kahnr had time to respond, she raised her arm, cutting him off. "But if you'll excuse us, we have a race to win. Good luck," she added in a sneering tone. "You'll need it."