Good morning, yes, it’s back, another ~500 words from the next Cassidyverse novel!
This one is a challenging one to write, so far, because I don’t have my usual cast of characters. Oh, they’re present in these snippets, but they won’t be around for most of the book, so I have to figure out the personalities and quirks of the others.
Anyways, let’s take another look!
“It may be easier with a hologram,” Hecate said. An image of a ship appeared floating before them. It was elongated, with a triangular bow which was vaguely alligator-shaped, a tapered ‘waist’ from which extended what looked like two pontoons, and a wider, squared-off aft.
“This is the original design, as proposed by Admiral Cassidy.”
“Wait. Hecate, drop the formality, please,” Kendra said. “Otherwise it’s going to be ‘Admiral this’ and ‘Admiral that’ all afternoon.”
“Certainly, Kendra. After evaluation revealed previously unexpected flaws, the design was revised.”
“Hey!” protested Kendra. “Improvements, not fixing flaws!”
The hologram shifted, with the ‘pontoons’ dropping further down from the central section, and without changing size it seemed to enlarge.
“This was to accommodate the inclusion of a ship fabricator, attached to the ventral side of the central hull, between the flight pods. The overall dimensions of the craft was also increased to reflect the evolving mission of the class.”
Another shift in the hologram.
“An extension was planned for the dorsal side of the central hull, consisting of the bridge and primary science offices.”
And another shift, both to the bow and to the flight pods.
“The original pods were shifted outward, and a second pair of pods were installed on the interior and dorsal sides.”
Kendra jumped in. “And that’s the biggest difference between the Explorers and the other starships; all the small craft are serviced in these pods, rather than a shuttlebay. Think of them as miniature versions of the Njord’s upper bay.”
“Makes sense,” Davie admitted. “But why four of them?”
“Come on, Davie,” cajoled Kendra. “Exploration, remember? And you missed the reason for the extra pods. Hecate, continue.”
“Thank you. The Christopher J. Pike was to carry 10 Wolves, 40 Direwolves, and 10 Coyotes. The additional pods enables each Explorer to more than double that complement, to a full squadron of 24 Wolves, two full squadrons of 48 Direwolves, and four 6-ship squadrons of Coyotes.”
Davie whistled. “Titania’s Teeth! I had no idea; that’s half of what Njord carries!”
“It gets better,” Kendra said eagerly. “The Wolves are the Mark II’s, with the improved compensators.”
“How did you get them? I’ve been arguing for them for months!”
“Priorities. These days, the Exploration branch takes precedence.”
“You’re going to hate this, then.”
Davie leaned back. “I’m ready.”
“Eight Mark III Direwolves.”
“Oh, now that’s not fair!”
Hecate interrupted. She had followed the verbal sparring with interest but thought it time to intervene. “Davie, the Mark III’s are in full production and all of your Mark I’s will be replaced by the end of the quarter.”
“Oh,” Whitmore said, mollified. “Why didn’t I know this?”
“Colonel McKnight has been kept informed by Majors Fowler and Garcia-Kay,” answered the AI. “Presumably the Colonel has her own reasons why you weren’t informed.”
“Hmmph. Probably in one of her memos. Kendra, are you upgrading to a Mark III?”
The blonde Admiral shook her head.
“No. Brie and I are perfectly happy in the Mark II. Besides, I finally have the pilot’s seat exactly the way I want it.”
“Ah, yes, my sybaritic friend.”
“Hey, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing!”
Davie waved it away; as a long-serving former member of the Artemis navy, then Minister of War, she was almost genetically programmed to be ascetic. “Anything else? What was the tweak to the bow?”
“That was the final change, the addition of a 20 petawatt spinal laser, mounted ventrally under the bow and capable of aiming within 30° of the longitudinal axis.”
“No other offense?” asked an incredulous Whitmore.
Leda, distracted from her grooming by the hologram, reached as far forward as she could to bat at it only to be pulled back by Kendra. Hecate waited until the ‘cat was settled again, then resumed.