A/N: Thank you to AbscondingCascade, Brimmstone, DrDamage, Jilly, Jon, ralphmullins, and Vassago for recommending this story. That really means a lot to me.
The simulators were coming along nicely. Xander had been given footage of Death Gliders in action and was plugging them in as the enemy team to be flown by an AI.
“I'm making them faster and more maneuverable than what I saw to make up for the possibility of that footage not being as fast as they are capable of flying and for the fact that the AI is not as good as a human pilot would be.” Xander said.
“Jaffa. Most Goa'uld armies are made up of Jaffa. They're stronger and live longer than humans.” O'Neill corrected. “Plus having the symbiote makes it harder for them to rebel. They're dependent on the Goa'uld.”
Xander looked up at that news. “What about Teal'c?”
Jack sighed. “We'll cross that bridge.” he left the rest unsaid.
Xander nodded and went back to work.
Jack and Xander flew as part of the enemy patrol the next time they went in the sims. Appearing behind the squadron after the battle had been engaged, wiping them out. By far, the hardest thing for all the airplane trained pilots to get used to was the fact that you could cut your engines, turn and shoot, while still heading the direction you had been going. Turning your ship had no bearing on your trajectory if you wanted it not to. Xander had fun using that maneuver to fool pilots into thinking he was moving one way while moving another many, many times.
After five weeks of training, it had been three weeks since anyone crashed their simulated TIE fighters into another fighter or anything else. Five weeks of eight hours a day in the sims and another four of book work. O'Neill was teaching most of the bookwork and only the fact that Xander came down from his ship and taught what he felt were the most important lessons himself allowed Jack to stay a step ahead of the class he was teaching. He wasn't even the top in the sims. Every so often, his experience would work against him in one of the ways that starfighters were different from airplanes. Still, he was solidly top 5 and he figured that was good enough for now.
Today however, three Lambda shuttles had landed on the tarmac and the recruits were gawking at the size of them.
“Today, you're getting your first chance to pilot your first TIE fighter. Everyone aboard their shuttle.” Jack ordered. The recruits crammed aboard, it was standing room only, but the trip was short.
Xander checked the time in his HUD and stopped working. The pilots would be here soon and he should be there to greet them. He snapped one last piece onto the mining droid he was building. He hadn't gotten as many human miners as he wanted and he'd need the droids to augment the mining operation and save him from having to place several thousand men there. The US military was also running a recruitment campaign for miners or oil workers looking for a good paying 3 year contract. But it looked like it was going to come up short there even if recruitment for other positions was doing well. Xander was working around the clock and only two, 1 hour sessions of Force meditation per day and sheer willpower were keeping him going right now.
Which was only part of the reason he'd scrapped his original plans to modify his suit and rename the ship. There were never any discipline problems on Vader's ship. Part of that reason was that the men knew they were serving under the complete bad-ass that was Darth Vader. And Xander was about to invite an army – supposedly a friendly army, but an army none the less – onto his ship. Quite frankly, the extra intimidation of the Vader persona could be useful. Possibly in keeping the peace among 300,000 troops and possibly in keeping his ship. He was under no illusions that if all 300,000 soldiers turned on him that he could possibly keep the Executor. So the mask stayed as it was. That he didn't have time
to modify it was only another reason not to.
Xander popped out his wheels and skated down to the hanger bays.
“Star Wars on ice.” and “Now I've seen everything.” were some of the comments he heard as he entered the bay where the shuttles were unloading. But at least they weren't afraid of him. Or at least less afraid of him than they had been at their first meeting.
“It's fast and fun. I'm a busy man and don't have time to explain myself. Follow me to the Fighter Bay.” Xander put his wheels away and strode out at a quick pace, but one the men and women could follow. Reaching the hanger, he turned so the cadets could see the TIE fighters behind him. “Oh yes, Welcome to the Executor.”
Xander had to keep his concentration on the mock dogfight going on in front of his ship. And well he did, he was able to use the Force to stop two ships from crashing into each other and to keep another from crashing into the ship's shields when the pilot presumably lost track of the hard deck they were supposed to be keeping above the shields. “Chew them out for me, would you Jack?” Xander radioed Jack as he too flew above the ship.
“They won't be able to sit for a week.” O'Neill agreed from his own TIE fighter. Those three and the one that had fired his blasters accidentally. No one had been hit, but still, it was a horrible mistake for supposedly trained pilots. Thank the Force that Xander had been able to avert those crashes. And did he really just thank the Force?
Jonathan came out of his quarters and checked that Xander was in the machine shop working on more droids. Seeing that he was, he turned and left.
He quickly turned around for a second look. Something was wrong. Xander wasn't moving. He rushed to his side and was gladdened to hear the familiar 'whoosh' of Vader's breather. He tried to wake him by shaking and even slapping the helmet, but he didn't stir. He tried to lift him but the cybernetic limbs made him much too heavy to lift on his own. So he called Willow. She was too scared to try to use the Force to lift him, but confided that she knew that Xander hadn't been sleeping. Instead he'd been getting by on Force Meditation. And the bare minimum of that as well. She theorized that using the Force the other day to stop the TIE fighter crashes had simply pushed him too far.
Jonathan went to get a pillow. They pulled/dropped (but don't tell Xander that) Xander off his stool and sort of gently laid him on the floor. Putting the pillow under Xander's helmet, they hoped that the Jedi was comfortable.
“I'll call Jack. Let him know Xander won't be coming down for today's lesson. Probably just give them extra sim time instead.” Willow said.
“Yeah. The medi-droid says he's just asleep. He's been working 22 hours a day for the past five weeks on a bunch of different projects. All sorts of stuff that only he can do. So we're pretty sure it's just exhaustion. Jon and I will keep an eye on him and let you know when he's back up.” Willow said into the radio.
“Roger that, Willow.” Jack frowned. For 5 weeks? Incredible. Stupid, but incredible. “Give us a call when he's back up.” Now to really chew out some pilots. Jack almost felt bad that he was tired only working 14 hour days. Almost.
Warren Mears hadn't been slacking as he'd trained his Marines. There were a lot of protocols for space flight and using blasters that were slightly different from what the men were used to. He was also working a lot with Teal'c, the Jaffa from SG-1, training the Marines in common Jaffa tactics. Teal’c split his time between all the teams training for combat.
Other times, Warren taught them things he'd learned as a storm trooper, right down to basics like differences shooting with an energy weapon versus a slug thrower. Target shooting and practicing the care and maintenance of their new weapons were all well and good. But a problem had arisen that they hadn't foreseen. It had happened when he met his first Lieutenant Colonel and realized that Lucas hadn't left a spot for Lieutenant Colonels in the stormtrooper memories. The rank simply didn't exist. He had called Xander about it, Xander had agreed that it could be a problem and assigned him to fix it with ranks between the different services being equal and clearly and identically named whenever possible.
Xander had shot down his first idea as simply using the Marine terms as not being a compromise for all. So after a week, he finally had a list he was pretty sure Xander would like.General (Army) / Admiral (Navy)
Colonel (Army) / Commodore (Navy)
Commander (Army) / Commander (Navy)
Major (Army) / Major (Navy)
Sergeant (Army) / Petty Officer (Navy)
It kept the Petty Officer term for the Navy, and made Captains in every branch an equivalent rank. What had been Captains in the Navy were now Commodores. Commanders replaced Lieutenant Colonels in the Army while Lieutenant Commanders were replaced by Majors in the Navy. And Sergeants and Petty Officers still kept their dizzying array of extra ranks. All in all, it had taken a week to work out everything he wanted to do with this system. All the lower classes of enlisted and officers were all named the same across all branches now. And there was no more confusion whether a Lieutenant Colonel outranked a Lieutenant Commander. Because even though he had a brother in the service and stormtrooper memories, he was an outsider in the US services and their ranks had just plain confused him.
He sent off his new list then went out to the firing range. He may have the memories. But he definitely needed to practice with his blaster to get the muscle memory.
A/N: The list of ranks is thanks to the fact that all of the armed services have confusing and contradictory ranks. (i.e. A Captain in the Navy outranks a Captain in the Army or Airforce.) Also Lucas missed a few levels that exist in America. So this is me combining 4 different ranking systems into one.
A/N2: Xander's armor came up a lot in comments. So I wanted to address that with this analogy.
You find yourself alone on a battleship in the middle of the Indian ocean. You manage to move it away from shore and are then contacted by the Indian government. They'd *really* like your ship. You negotiate down to them staffing your ship for three years while you hunt Somali pirates for them. After that, you'll give them examples of all the tech on the ship.
If the higher ups think you're a pushover, what do you think the odds of you keeping your ship are? If the men on your crew think you're a pushover, what do you think the odds of you keeping your ship are? You may WANT to come across as a nice guy, but it's in your best interest to meet your crew wearing a shotgun, a bandoleer, and as many pistols and knives as you can find.
Once they get to know you, they'll find you're not such a bad guy, but by then you'll be at sea and thoughts of mutiny will be further from their minds. And until then, you want them to KNOW that you are the baddest bad-ass in the galaxy.
Darth Vader on skates --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bub2KrnlzcU