Fandom: Generation Kill
Summary: Rogue Squadron (Star Wars) fusion. In a galaxy, far, far away...
Disclaimer: Based on fictionalised portrayals as seen on the HBO miniseries.
A/N: Knowledge of SW canon absolutely unnecessary, really.
“Have you fucking seen this? We’ve all known Iceman has rocket fuel for blood, but I’m beginning to question what the fuck is he using for actual fuel. This maneuver should be fucking impossible. There’s something like the rules of physics,” Ray complains, his voice easily discernible amongst the chatter on comms.
“Ray, aren’t you dead?” Hasser asks curiously, as if the casualty hadn’t just appeared on all of their monitors, quickly followed by the rant.
“Yeah, but that program was cheating when it killed me.”
“Bravo Five to Bravo Eight,” Brad says tersely into his radio. “I always thought that killing you would come with the benefit of shutting you the fuck up. Get off the comms. Stafford, you have incoming on your five. Get rid of them, we have a station to deal with.”
“I don’t know, Brad, it’s Stafford. He wouldn’t hit a galaxy class starship if it was dangling in front of him.”
“I’m going to remember that, Person,” Q-tip muttered. “And aren’t you dead?”
“I’m haunting you lot and offering sage advice from beyond the grave. After this fucked up sim, I’m going to accompany Hasser to a bar and use my newfound ghostly powers to help him get laid and finally pop his cherry.”
“Bravo One to Bravo Eight,” Nate sounded more tired than annoyed, but everyone fell quiet in an instant. “I know this might come as a shock, but casualties rarely hang around to insult whoever shot them down, not to mention disrupt the communications. Please behave accordingly.”
It was a little irritating that this had shut Ray up effectively while Brad’s comment seemed to have only added fuel to the fire, but Ray was still figuring out the Bravo commander, waiting to see how far he could push.
“Bravo One to all Bravo victors,” Nate continued after a longer pause. “I believe you have a station to deal with, so get on with it.”
As Brad was saying. He corrects his course and directs power to the weapons system. The station is history already.
The station is history.
In a way, it has been history for a while; the simulation has been based on the battle of Nasiriyah, and that happened a few years ago, at the beginning of the rebellion. Nate was there, he flew a Victor in the first Bravo squadron. One of the four who got out alive. But the station was destroyed, marking the first major victory for the rebel forces.
“You’re a morbid fucker, sir, to choose this for the sim,” Brad said right after the briefing, when the rest of the pilots were scrambling out of the room and into the hangar. Nate just looked at him, then bent to turn off the simulation projection, the room’s lights coming back up as the space and stars disappeared.
“The whole point is to learn from the worst battles and the best pilots.”
Brad wasn’t there for the Nasiriyah. He had actually joined the rebellion a week before that, but he was stuck on the fucking Mathilda, and wasn’t that joy and pleasure. He hadn’t joined Bravo until a few months later, when they were practically building the squadron anew.
“The strategy we have devised has chances of allowing us to destroy the station’s weapons system and take it over with minimum casualties. I can’t change history, but I can do my best to keep us from repeating it,” Nate said and Brad momentarily regretted opening this line of conversation, but Nate’s smile was reassuring, warm.
The original Bravo Five had been Jack Berger, and his name was still inscribed on the side of the victor, right below the cockpit. Four names underneath it, repainted on each new fighter to bear the callsign. Lorena Kessler was the one above Brad’s, the pilot who died in the battle of Nasiriyah. In the two years of its existence, Bravo Squadron has earned itself a reputation of a suicide squadron; they’ve been assigned the most dangerous missions, even considering the fact that in this war, all odds were pretty much stacked up against them to begin with.
This hasn’t really changed since Nate took over; the only one from the original roster who chose to stay on. It must have pissed Ferrando to no end, he wanted Nate on Mathilda, holed up in the command centre and using his big brain to strategise the plans for the battles, and not flying right into them, but not even Ferrando would deny a request from one of the Nasiriyah heroes.
That, in turn, pissed Nate to no end, but he was pretty good at hiding it. Especially since it got him what he wanted; freedom in rebuilding Bravo. In the last four months they had a single casualty, and that had been Person when he tried to use his navigator droid as a coffee maker.
Times were, indeed, changing.
“How do I even try to explain that?” Nate asked, surveying the droid. Smoke was still coming out of it. It beeped and Nate mournfully and tried to dose itself with more foam from the fire extinguisher.
“Spontaneous combustion?” Mike suggested, looking for all the world like he was trying not to laugh.
Nate groaned and watched as Sparky spun in a circle, whistling. After a moment, the front panel opened and revealed a steaming metal container full of coffee. Mike hid his head in his hands, his shoulders shaking.
It was all maddeningly unhelpful.
“Thank you, Sparky,” Nate muttered. People warned him about Ray Person. Turned out they had sorely underestimated him.
Then again, Nate knew exactly who he wanted for the squadron. Person was one of the best at subspace communications and could hack into any enemy frequency while flying his Victor, and he wasn’t a lousy pilot either. He wasn’t as good as some of the candidates Nate had for the squadron, to be honest, but Bravo had been composed of excellent pilots from the beginning. Didn’t always prevented them from getting killed.
Sparky beeped again, a sequence growing in insistence. Nate picked up the flask and took a careful sip; it smelled like coffee but for all he knew it could be oil.
It was surprisingly good.
Brad joined the Rebel Forces around the same time his home planet was destroyed.
Those two things aren’t quite connected.
The Iceman had already been a legend at the Academy when Nate joined the Officers’ Training Program. His reflexes had been unsurpassable, he could apparently see the cloaked ships somehow, and frankly, there was one rather suicidal maneuver already named in his honour.
There had always been a rather large gathering around the simulators whenever Brad Colbert would partake in one of the exercises. He wasn’t the only one to draw crowds, of course, but there was something else about hia flying, something Nate couldn’t quite put his finger on.
Like he was a fraction of a second ahead of everyone and everything. Never there when the enemy fire was, lying in wait for his chosen target.
There had been some people, long time ago, who could do that. Who could see the future, change your thoughts, move objects with the sheer power of their will. Those people were long gone, a mere legend and a fairy tale, if even that. A whisper in the wind.
Nate watched the way Colbert’s ship twitched to the left, almost unnoticeably, as if the shift was accidental. Except that the red of the lasers shows up on the screen, through precisely the same spot the ship occupied seconds ago.
“I want Colbert,” was the first thing Nate said when they sat down, the pile of datacards on the table between them. Lots of people wanted to join the Bravo Squadron after the Naisiryah. Nate didn’t want anyone on his squadron who would want to join it after the Naisiriyah. It presented a slight problem.
Patterson sighed and shook his head. “He hasn’t even been cleared yet. We’ve had a real influx of people recently, including the refugees, but that also means the security is tighter. It’s our seventh base this year,” he added and even though his expression hadn’t changed, Nate could feel the frustration. They had spies within their ranks since the beginning, but it was never this bad.
“He’s the best pilot there is,” Nate pointed out. It was that simple.
Patterson raised his eyebrow at that, probably unused to any pilot admitting that anyone surpassed their own skills. “This might be what I’m afraid of,” he said after a moment.
Unlike Nate and most of the command, Patterson never went to the Federation Academy, never flew in their ranks. Any contact he would have had with Brad would have been in flying against him, and Nate knows this had been the case, few years go, when their second base had been under attack. Brad Colbert had been a part of the elite 2nd Squadron of the Federation Fleet.
Then again, Ferrando had been the commander of the Federation’s flagship around the same time. Things changed and in this war it didn’t pay to look into anyone’s past.
“I want Colbert,” he repeated and Patterson nodded slowly.
“Let’s talk security measures.”
“We’re throwing you a birthday party, sir,” Ray explained, a bit unnecessarily, considering the glittery banner in the canteen.
“I can see that,” Nate shook his head and tried his best not to look at Brad, for fear of actually laughing. “Why?”
“Well, see, we hadn’t actually seen any decent chow in months. All that dried bullshit made of bantha dung or whatever the fuck, pressed into being completely unrecognizable. Still smells like dung, though. Anyway, those assholes in HQs wouldn’t give us any supplies unless we gave them a good reason, and see, birthday party of our esteemed leader and a decorated hero? Totally fucking valid reason, I shit you not. Sir.”
“It’s not my birthday,” Nate pointed out.
“Let’s not get discouraged by the details.”
When Ray was gone, busy yelling at Lilley and Stafford about the uneven way they put up the decorations, Brad leaned in, his voice low and only for Nate’s ears.
“He’s not that far off, though, is he?”
Nate shrugged. “Missed it by a week. How did you know?”
Brad just looked at him, as if telling Nate he should know better. Same way Brad always seemed to know almost everything else.
His quarters on Mathilda were a glorified jail cell, but Brad didn’t take it personally. It probably would take some time until his new overlords decided he might be a turncoat, but he wasn’t a spy. It would happen, though, he was pretty sure of this.
Didn’t expect visitors that soon, though.
“Lieutenant,” he greeted Nate, offered a half-assed salute.
“It’s commander, actually,” Nate said wryly.
“I didn’t know rebel ranks actually counted.”
“Why don’t you find out for yourself, Lt. Colbert?”
Something in Brad’s gut unfurled slowly, a familiar feeling of being at the right place and at the right time. The same peace of mind he felt in the cockpit, the same feeling he trusted more than all the sensors. Just as the destruction of his homeworld told him intellectually that he made the right decision, Nate’s smile told him that on the visceral level.
It should feel fucking strange, but it didn’t.
At the Academy, Brad had flown against Nathaniel Fick in a simulation run exactly one time. It had been the only time he got shot down.
Fick wasn’t that good of a pilot. Sure, he was in the top thirty at the Academy at the time, and considering they had hundreds of students it was fucking good, but he wasn’t that good. His flying was just a bit too much by the book, Brad always thought, and he wasn’t quite sure why he came back to watch his simulations more than once.
But that one time, Fick flew erratically, almost foolishly. He took unnecessary risks and some of his maneuvers seemed rather pointless. And yet, he had shot Brad down.
Brad didn’t ask how the fuck, he thought himself a better loser. He shook Fick’s hand and rolled his eyes at the cheering from the crowd. But later, after he good-naturedly offered to treat Fick to a beer at the canteen, he looked him straight in the eye and asked what the fuck he was thinking during the last three maneuvers, the ones that were completely and mind-numbingly stupid, the ones that somehow worked.
Fick shrugged, licked his lips before answering, head tilted consideringly. “I wasn’t thinking at all,” he said, his voice pointed, like it was supposed to mean something.
A cold feeling settled in Brad’s stomach, but Fick just looked at him for a long moment then shook his head. His laugh was entirely fake when he spoke. “Must have been a fluke. Don’t suppose I’ll be getting lucky like that ever again,” he added. His gaze was serious, like he was willing Brad to understand, to convey that Brad’s secret was safe with him.
Nobody else put things together before, nobody else gave credit to old wives’ tales about the old noble order, the sages who kept peace and fucking justice in the galaxy. Load of fucking bullshit. Well, unless...
Fick was too smart for comfort, except that Brad felt completely comfortable with him knowing. And well, his gut rarely steered him wrong, after all.
They ran the Naisiriyah simulation seven times before they found the tac that worked. Ray got shot down on four of those approaches.
“The fucking computer has it in for me,” he bitched. It was probably true.
Nate collected the data and sat up looking over the results in the briefing room, all the lights turned low as the variations on the battle played out on the screen.
“Minimum casualties,” Brad said, leaning against the door. “Hindsight is a wonderful thing.”
Nate shrugged, finished typing a string of numbers into his computer before looking up. “Not everyone can see into the future, Brad,” he said, but there was no sting in his words, there never really was.
“That’s actually a good thing,” Brad muttered. “The fucking thing is really unreliable, never gives me the lottery numbers.”
Nate smiled, just a curl of his lips, but Brad could see one possible future in that. It was better than lottery numbers.