"She doesn't fly." By Lt. Sara Crusher The night was a total bust. It had started out fine but by the end of the night it had ended just like every encounter Sara had with Joshua, with Sara madder then hell and storming into her quarters like a hurricane. His embittered view of her would never change. To him she would always be the selfish, self-centered bitch who "cheated on" him and then left him. Sara was past all of that and past him, and she surly didn’t give a damn what he thought of her, but it was clouding his perceptions. Her apprehensions about his flight plans had real merit. She knew how hard what he had planned was, she’d done the damn maneuvers herself for heaven’s sake. He knew nothing of her piloting skills and no matter what he thought this wasn’t about who was the better pilot. She knew he had more flight time under his belt, but she had skills, which is about all she had. Unlike Josh the passion she had once felt for being in a cockpit had faded and dulled into nothingness a long time ago. Until tonight. It was more then a little odd to feel that desire, that need to be in a cockpit again. To have that warm feeling that starts in the pit of your stomach and then spreads though out your body causing the briefest of shutters. "I can’t." Sara said as she flopped down on the couch. She tried to shake it off but it wouldn’t die down. Josh was being to damn cocky over this, pride and self-confidence is one thing, but his smug attitude was another. She had tried to warn him that if anything it would be his arrogance that would cause an accident, she had tried to explain that she was taught a respect for fling that he didn’t seem to have, though she had learned that final lesson the hard way; but what did she get in return, "I don't know who taught you to fly, but apparently they had their head up their ass." Sara couldn’t help but laugh a little. If Josh only knew who he was insulting. "You think just because you *use* to fly that you know what's best." She’d never meet someone so clueless when it came to understanding someone else’s emotions, as Joshua Asper. She also never meet someone so good at being spiteful and hurtful, "You leave the combat and exhibition flying to me and I'll leave curing colds and upset tummies to you." Sara stood up and headed into the bedroom. Fifteen minutes later, after digging around in the far reaches of her closet, Sara stood in front of her full length mirror. Her khaki shorts and black t-shirt had been replaced by a navy blue jumpsuit, her black sandals by heavy combat boots, her hair was in a braid that trailed perfectly down her spine. Sara jumped at her refection; she looked just like she had in the academy, which wasn’t all bad, it meant she still fit in her old flight suit. Sara sighed as she looked at the patches that were being reflected back at her from the suit. ‘Senior Cadet Sara Crusher’ was sown in gold letters into the black patch on her right breast. Every flight jumpsuit no matter the squad had the name patch. It was the patch on the left side of the zipper that mattered. On the left side of Sara’s jumpsuit was a gold command star, a throw back to an earlier time, superimposed on a red Starfleet delta with a silver border, all rotated ninety degrees to the right and encircled with a red boarder. With in the red boarder were the words "StarFleet Academy Red Squadron" The Red Squad was an elite group of cadets chosen for special ops training and virtually every cadet tried like hell to make the cut. Sara had been asked to join as a medic and was eager to accept. She had started her training as a medic and was loving it, but then somehow her CO had found out about her flight training. Sara turned to the left to look at the patch on her upper arm. A Knight standing with sword and shield, all in red, stood with in the patch. A twentieth century F-14 Tomcat jet fighter and a modern Valkyrie class fighter craft soared in opposite directions from the bottom tip of the shield. The Red Knights are the only flight team at the academy left from earth’s old Navy days and it remains just as elite and proud in 2383 as it had been in 1960 when it was first founded. Unlike Nova, which was more of a show off team, the Knights were a true fighting team. Nova was open to any cadet with the skills with a decent grade point average and who could passed it‘s flight test. The Knights were harder and more elite in their selections. Right up front you had to have at least a three point five or higher GPA, plus you had to have at least a level two certification which made the team only accessible to upper classmen, and finally you had to be sponsored by a former member. Sara spent two years in the Knights and never knew who sponsored her, she still didn’t know. She also had no clue as to way she accepted Colonel Elliott’s offer to join the flight team. Learning to fly for her then was a means to get past a fear, a fear she didn’t understand at the time, but something told her not to turn him down. It was skill to her, something to be learned and polished and nothing more. All of her enjoyment from being in the squad came from her medic training, or at least that was the only place she allowed herself to feel enjoyment. It never made sense to her back then but now, now she knew why she was merely going though the motions. The only emotions she felt towards flying were tied to her accident with Rhi, so she cut herself off. It was time to make a change. "Computer load pilot training program Alpha three using flight team SFT-386-Crusher" Sara called out as she stood outside of holodeck one. The computer hummed softly as Sara looked up and down the hallway. She rocked on the balls of her feet and wished the computer would hurry up. Finally it responded to her. "Specify craft type." That was easy. There was only one type of craft Sara preferred over all others. "Valkyrie class fighter." Once again the computer hummed and then a green light flashed. "Specify training level." "Three." Sara said quickly. "No wait." She stood there for a moment chewing on her bottom lip. First years could do level three. Her skills were beyond that, but was her nerve? Sara stared at the console and for a moment thought about turning around and going back to her quarters but then the computer restated it’s query. Sara sighed, "Level fourteen." "Pilot verification." "Crusher 000400079382." Sara smiled a little at herself for remembering the code so easily. The last time she’d use it was before she left home for medical school. She’d cleanly kicked her brother’s tail in an old fashion dog fight. One of the few times she’d had fun while flying, mostly because she knew she was safe in a holodeck. "The pilot’s certification does not allow access to that level." Sara nodded as if the computer could see her. "Override certification requirements. Authorization Crusher, Sara 79382 Delta3. Override safety protocols decrease by 50%. Same authorization." It took the computer a little longer to reply this time. Sara figured it was checking and rechecking her codes, she had no idea that the computer had been preprogrammed to recognize her codes and to send notification and streaming video to a coded file. Finally the computer beeped, the little flashing green light became sold, and the computer’s voice told her that the program was complete and to enter when ready. Sara took a deep breath and walked into the holodeck. The black and orange grid had been replaced with the StarFleet air base that sat in between StarFleet head quarters and the academy. There was a slight wind coming from the bay but other then that the weather was perfect. Sara walked over to the line of fighters that were being fueled and checked for take off. She stopped. Her stomach flip flopped, the color drained from her face, and she trembled a bit. What was she thinking? She couldn’t do this.. She didn’t do this anymore.. Sara turned on her heel and headed for the doors. "Computer exit." "Your Valkyrie is ready, Lieutenant." A young man said as he walked up behind Sara. Sara turned on her heel and looked at him and then over to the group of Valkyries. She watched as the holographic pilots started to climb into their cockpits. Their skills would be based on records form her own team so it would be like flying with Carmen, Tigger, Sophie and the others again. "They’re waiting on you, Lieutenant." The young man said again. "And you still need to go though checks." Pushy little hologram, Sara thought to herself as she looked from the fighter to the door and back again. Finally Sara nodded and headed back to the craft. Sara ran though her checks twice before getting into the craft. Her heart pounded in her ears as she began start up. The muscles in her neck knotted up as she put on her helmet. The comm screen in front of her lit up and her breathing became shallow as she read the mission briefing. "Despite our efforts the enemy threat continues to grow. Long range sensors have detected a concentration of their forces in sector TDA-34. Our objectives are to engage enemy fighters and secure the area." Piece of cake, Sara thought as she geared up. Slowly each Valkyrie before her in the line took off. The closer she got to her go-time the more she could feel herself shutting off. This isn’t what she wanted. This wasn’t why she came here. She forced herself to feel everything as her hands moved over the controls. "Valkyrie Four your a-go." Came the voice in her head set. Sara closed her eyes. She couldn’t do it. "Repeat Valkyrie Four you are clear for take off." Sara shook her head. "What’s wrong Red?" "I can’t do this Colonel." "Sure you can, Red. I know you can." "How do you know Sir?" "Because someone believed in your skills and talent or you wouldn’t be here. You wouldn’t want to prove that their trust was put in the wrong person now would you?" "No Sir." "Good. Now get your butt up there." "Aye aye Colonel." Sara shook off the memory as the voice in her head set came though again. "Is there a problem Valkyrie Four?" "No problem. Valkyrie Four taking off." Nearly two hours later Sara stood in the shower. She’d shut down once she’d hit the atmosphere and was drawing off pure skill again. The skills were still there but that was it. There was still no passion there and she wouldn’t allow there to be any feelings. Sara cleaned up her jumpsuit and put it back into isolate in her closet. She quietly slipped into bed and waited for Cyanah to come home and hoped in the back of her mind that Josh wouldn’t take her up on her challenge because it was clear to her now... She didn’t fly any more.