Sunday WildCard – WIP Sneak Peek!
Hi, thanks for dropping by!
Today’s post is about 500 words from the current (next) Cassidy Chronicles novel. Now, stop yelling and screaming and carrying on! You knew there’d be another one, right? Right!
This will be a little different, though, as the main focus will be on some characters who were either secondary or almost NPC’s in the other novels. Cass and Ken will not be the focal point of this book, which is why, when it’s eventually released, it won’t have a volume number. It is, of course, a Cassidy Chronicles story. But it’s a branch of the story, if you get what I mean.
Bear in mind this is an unedited, unreviewed, very rough draft. It doesn’t even have a firm title yet!
But that all said: enjoy!
“Oberon wept. What a monster!” Admiral Davie Whitmore stared out the optical sapphire window at the ship nearing completion. She was a tall woman with a face which showed the years of duty she’d carried. Her dark skin and hair were untouched by wrinkles or grey, though, and set off the brilliant white of her uniform. The pods and suited figures provided a sense of scale which would have been lost otherwise. Over four kilometers long and two wide, it was the largest mobile unit every constructed by human hands.
The shorter blonde woman next to her, wearing a similar uniform, chided her. “Davie, you have no poetry in your soul. She’s gorgeous.”
“You’ve always been a romantic, Kendra.”
“True.” She idly patted her abdomen, still barely bulging.
“How are the girls dealing with being big sisters?”
“Mikki’s pretty blasé about it; been there, done that. Lisa’s excited, though. It’s fresh and new and exciting to her.”
“He isn’t even one yet! I know our kids are scary smart, but he’s way too little to have a clue.”
“I still can’t believe Cass managed to carry a baby while commanding the Constitution.”
Kendra laughed. “She doesn’t get morning sickness; I do. Besides, she’s stubborn, she is.”
“I know, shocking, ain’t it?” The treecat at her feet chittered. “No, I’m not ignoring you, Leda.”
Kendra knelt so the ‘cat could leap to her shoulder. The still-growing kit would eventually be able to reach from the ground but as yet wasn’t quite strong enough, and Kendra didn’t feel like getting claws in the unreinforced parts of her uniform. Davie observed it all with wry amusement.
“You and your family of ‘cats,” she said, watching the maneuvering.
Kendra shrugged, careful not to dislodge Leda.
“Just like cats. They choose you, not the other way around. Anyways, we didn’t trek out to Mars orbit just to talk babies.”
“I suppose not. Hecate!”
The AI’s avatar appeared. Over the past three years her appearance had continually, though subtly, altered. Gone were the pigtails and t-shirts and neon-colored sneakers. Gone, too, was the overeager near-teen persona she had adopted. The crises at the end of the Artemis War had done for that. She had also gained confidence: she had been instrumental in rebuilding the Fleet and overseeing the new construction, including the Forge. She had, essentially, Grown Up.
She kept the pink hair, though.
“Admirals,” she said, formally polite. “Leda.”
The telepathic ‘cat bleeked at the AI before resuming her grooming. The treecats’ ability to sense other minds had been one of the clinching arguments Kendra used to include AI’s as fully co-equal partners in the Terran Federation.
“She’s ready?” asked Kendra now.
“Yes, Admiral. A little behind schedule, perhaps, but I believe once you’re aboard you’ll find the additional capabilities useful and worth the wait.”
“Oh, no. Not me!” Kendra’s headshake was vigorous and nearly dislodged Leda. “I’m perfectly happy aboard the Connie, thank you very much!”
Davie said, “And I won’t tell Cass you misnamed her ship. Again.”
“Let’s sit down,” she said, diverting attention away from her gaffe and leading the others to the seating area.
“Kendra, I’ve been careful not to stick my nose into the construction; this is your baby, being part of the Exploration arm of Starfleet. So what were the delays?” asked Davie.
“I’ll let Hecate explain.”
The AI picked up the cue.
“The original plan called for two flight pods, one on either side.”
“Hold on. Flight pod?”
“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!”