And it’s Thursday again.
How did this happen? Wasn’t it Thursday, like, yesterday, right?
Hey, if today is Thursday, tomorrow’s Friday – and that means the Virtual Book Club is happening tomorrow! Hang out and chat with us! (It’s free!)
Well, the GOOD news is that you get another chapter in the most recently-published Cassidy novel, The Measure of Humanity. This is a direct sequel to The Road to the Stars.
A quick summary of What’s Happened So Far: it’s six months after the last book, and everyone is stepping back and reassessing the situation, with various motivations. (To read those chapters, just click on the title of this, then look through the archive.) Now we get to meet some of the Wolf pilots and get a peek at the new fighter on the block the Direwolf.
And for the record – C4, B1, V3
Lagrange Point 5, aboard the Alexander
“That was interesting.”
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Senior Lieutenant Shannon ‘Flashdance’ Fowler looked at the nearly-emplaced habitat. She was flying her Wolf, the Alexander, and had just finished her role overseeing her squadron assisting in the day-long transit.
“For values of interesting, yes,” scoffed her engineer, the also recently-promoted Lieutenant Dennis ‘Menace’ Tresca. “I would have preferred not trying to shepherd something that outweighs us by a factor of I don’t know how much for a day.”
“Oh, knock it off,” said Fowler. “We had the easy job; we just had to supervise and monitor. We even had two full crews to support us,” she continued, gesturing to the cabin. Two Coxswain’s Mates and two Engineer’s Mates were sitting before banks of monitors, looking drained.
“Point. Hey, Hopalong! You awake?”
CM Ginsberg looked up from his screen. “Huh?”
“That’s what I thought. Holts! Halter! Simone! Hang in there; we’ll get you back to your birds soon enough.”
“No offence, Menace, but when you said you had an easier job than flying herd on that lump I didn’t think you meant babysitting the FUNs,” said EM Holts. He and Ginsberg were the usual crew for the Julius, while CM Halter and EM Simone crewed the Hannibal. They, along with nine other Wolves, comprised the reconstituted Wolf Squadron. The pilots of the Wolves that did the actual flying, recent graduates from the Federation’s training academy, were due to be assigned to the Flying Tiger Squadron. Both squadrons would be based aboard Njord just as soon as it was fully operational, which would happen just as soon as Diana was transferred over. Hecate, the Beta-class AI in charge of the bays, spacedock, and internal construction yard, was already up and running, but couldn’t handle the operation of the entire station.
“EM Wilcox is going to go over my bird, centimeter by centimeter. I don’t trust that crazy CM she’s paired with as far as I can throw her,” complained Simone.
“Who, Adams?” asked Halter. “Sandman, she didn’t actually bend the bird. It just looked that way.”
“It’s my bird, Twinkie, so unless you want to trust your skin to a couple of FUNs…” Sandman let the sentence trail off.
“No, no, I’ll back you up,” Twinkie hastily replied. “Like you said, your bird.”
For all their griping, the evolution had gone more smoothly than anyone had dared hope. The new academy, set up in collaboration with HLC, had managed to finish the training started under Commander Mia Kleve relatively quickly after her death. These EM’s and CM’s formed the core of the new Wolf Squadron, while the class behind them became the Flying Tigers. The current class would be split evenly between Enterprise and HLC’s small contingent of Wolves; both of these smaller squadrons had a pair of veteran flight teams who could provide the polish for the FUNs, once they passed. After that, all the immediate needs would be met and they could begin planning on expanding the training into a proper school, not just for Wolf pilots and engineers.
“Did you hear about the fighter program?” asked Menace, returning his attention to his readings.
“No,” admitted Flashdance. “What’s up?”
“I heard a couple things, actually. First, they picked a name for the birds.”
“Don’t make me drag it out of you, Menace.”
“Oh, man. That’s frakking genius. Direwolves. Yeah, I can get behind that. What else did you hear?”
“They actually got the prototype off the ground!”
“No way! Who did they get to fly it?”
“Double Dip.” Daniela Garcia was one of three sisters who were assigned to the Enterprise as the crew of the DaVinci.
“Makes sense. She’s fully rated both EM and CM.” Flashdance thought about this for a minute. “You think that’ll be a requirement to fly?”
“Maybe?” shrugged Menace. “Only one crew, so they’d have to be pretty good.”
“Do you know what design they ended up with?”
“The triple-engined beast.”
“Oh, frak. That has to have the aerodynamics of a brick.”
“Just about. But from my seat, I’d love to have three sublight engines to play with. Can you say bat out of hell?”
“Any idea how many g she had to pull?”
“I don’t think they let her max it out, but – hold on, let me check.” Menace pinged his ‘plant; as a part of the engineering side of Starfleet, he had access to a good portion of the plans. He whistled when it popped up.
“According to the specs, they’ll be able to pull five hundred g, and she’d feel six.”
“If that actually happens, it sounds like they did some upgrading to the dampers and the engines,” Flashdance said, just a bit enviously. “Though I doubt it’s correct. Engineers always overpromise and underdeliver.”
“Hey! I resent that remark!”
“Resemble, more like.”
Menace tried to change the subject back. “Anyways. Dampers, definitely, but I don’t know about the engines. Hold on. Go, Njord.”
“Wolf flight, we’re good,” said Commodore Kyran Knight, the commander of the habitat, commed. “On station and OMS will keep us in position. Return to the barn.”
“RTB, aye,” acknowledged Menace.
“Wolf Squadron, well done! You managed not to bend your birds moving this mother into place. Time to head home. Acknowledge by boat,” Flashdance commed to the squadron.
“Julius, head home, aye.”
“Hannibal, down to ground, aye.”
“Frederick, dirtbound, aye.”
“Saladin, return to base, aye.”
“Charlemagne, return to flatland, aye.”
“Ataturk, heading groundside, aye.”
“Peter, dropping like a bad habit, aye.”
“Sun Tzu, swift as the wind, aye.”
“Timur, heading home, aye.”
“Gustav, time for a nap, aye.”
“Nelson, forward the better man, aye.”
“They couldn’t just say ‘aye-aye’ like normal crews?” muttered Menace.
Flashdance just laughed.