Chapter 1: Out of the frying pan...
Horizon Point Station, Cerol
Cerol System, UEE Controlled Space
Cerol System, UEE Controlled Space
Horizon Point Station, part imperial shipyard, part frontier trading post, throw in a few 'navy' bars, and a sprinkle of rustic charm and you had a recipe for... whatever this was. While it wasn't quite a backwater but one could hardly call Horizon Point a thriving center of commerce. While technically a civilian station, since it was seated above the only inhabited planet in the Cerol system, Horizon Point served as one of the UEE's forward operating bases, set a few systems deep into the FEZ/No man's land that the UEE and Coalition were currently fighting over, a point of egress between the frontlines and the UEE's more fortified colonial systems.
As a result, it saw plenty of UEE traffic, and the station's economy ended up growing to suit its military centric clientele. A hodgepodge of services both legal and illicit to provide for the tired and ailing soldier quickly cropped up, and it was often said that an enterprising soldier could find most anything he could need here. Shuttles and freighters laden with supplies zipped back and forth between the station and the surface, bringing supplies to ships docked to its shipyard arms, as wings of fighters and MAS units flew on regular patrols. Several fleets floated in close proximity to the planet, some preparing to leave, others returning from the front lines for much needed repairs.
Among the returning fleets was the Fifth Imperial Expeditionary Fleet, or the 'Fighting Fifths' as the men and women of the fleet often called themselves. Having just returned two weeks prior from heavy conflict within the Ilyan System, fending off a Coalition attempt to establish yet another foothold into UEE space, the majority of the Fifth fleet was undergoing repairs, with several smaller ships being built from the ground up to replace fleet losses. Transports shuttled back and forth through the ships of the Fifth Fleet, delivering supplies and transporting personnel. Shuttles bearing the black and gold stripes of the 101st Legion flew from the the surface of Cerol to several of the fleet's capital ships, as they dropped off new pilots and MAS's to replace the fleet's losses during its previous operations. The majority of the Fifth Fleet and its crew were set to be rotated off the frontlines- moving into a reserve and training role as new pilots and crew needed to be inducted into their specific roles and brought up to speed.
Docked to one of the arms of Horizon Point was the INS Roanoke, abuzz with a quiet commotion. Just outside the ship, the muffled rumble of heavy duty torches could be heard throughout the ship as whole plates of damaged armor was repaired or replaced. Inside, engineers and technicians were walking around the cramp hallways and thoroughfares of the ship, making repairs and spot adjustments to the interior of the ship, working in seemingly tireless shifts as they brought the Roanoke back to full strength. Despite this, the attitude throughout the ship was light, lax even, as crew chatted about, eager to finish up shift and cash in their leave passes for a trip to Horizon Point station proper.
This relaxed attitude extended to its detachment of MAS pilots as well. The 7th MAS Squadron found themselves gathered in the Officers' Lounge, temporarily converted into a meeting room for the day's briefings. The Roanoke had just received a shuttle full replacement crew and pilots to shore up their past losses, and the process of integrating the new and old was a fairly standard order of business.
Ingram sat at the head of their converted meeting table, with all the air of a chaperone trying to reign in kids getting ready for spring break. The Roanoke- and by extension the 7th Squadron had been pulling rough shifts for the past several standard months, so Ingram understood the desire to relax. Their usual briefing room was currently undergoing repairs- complications due to a missile striking the hull above the room. As a result, the 7th found themselves gathered around a table in the officer's lounge, with its partially stocked bar no further than a few steps away.
"Alright, 7th Squadron, lets get this done quick." Ingram called out over the mild din of chatting pilots. His voice held the authoritative timbre most of his squadron were used to, but lacked the the harsher bark it typically had while they were deployed.
"As you all can see, we've just arrived at Horizon Point," Ingram began his spiel, gesturing out the lounge's windows. "We'll be here for the next week as the Roanoke undergoes repairs. We're getting rotated off the frontlines so if you have vacation requests put them in now."
Ingram glanced at his datapad and swiped over to a dossier for their newest pilot, the public parts of her dossier appearing on everyone else's synced screens. "Also, it appears that the Upper brass has finally heard our calls for reinforcements during the Ilyan blitz, and has seen fit to send us a single pilot. Please welcome Lieutenant Alcántara."
Ingram was of course making a joke at their new pilot's expense. The Roanoke didn't have a large enough hangar to support anymore than a single additional pilot anyway. Ingram wasn't thrilled at the idea of a test pilot joining them, rather than another veteran combat pilot. That being said, the squadron and the rest of the fleet were about to shift into a training/rest/recoup stance anyway, so they had plenty of time to iron out the any kinks the squadron might have. Nevertheless, Ingram paused his spiel to allow their newest pilot- and anyone else in the squadron to make any introductions they wished.
Ingram gestured to their newest pilot, "Welcome to the 7th Direwolves, Lieutenant. My name is Commander Shaw, but the boys and girls here like to call me 'Boss'. Make yourself comfortable and feel free to ask anyone in the squadron questions you may have. As for the rest of you, I expect you to play nice- you know who you are."
Ingram shot a look at those few pilots in question, but didn't approach the subject further. Good natured ribbing and hazing rituals were common in most- if not all UEE squadrons. As a squadron leader, Ingram was required to publicly disapprove, but as long as things didn't get overly hostile, violent or otherwise out of hand, most people took their squadron rituals on the chin.
Oh and before I forget. I know that several of you are trying to jump ship and hit Horizon Point as soon as possible. Danielsson will be in charge of approving requests for leave, starting at 1700 local time."