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Matt
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Best Friends Chapter Three
May 29th, 2010 at 9:04pm
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Chapter 3:
Straker sat at his conference table discussing the research division with John Grey and Alec Freeman. It had been running on its own for a month and a half, and Ed didn’t want it to fall apart due to neglect.

“So Alec, who do we have to fill Colonel Lake’s old position?”

“Well Ed, it looks like we are going to have to split the responsibility. I have three people in mind; Captain Jennifer Wallace, Major Joseph Kelly, and Lt. Colonel Geoffrey Blake.”

“I had assumed as much. I know Geoff and Joe. John, tell me about Captain Wallace.”

“Captain Jennifer Erin Wallace, age 28, single, came to us from the USAF, Masters in Astro from Cal Tech, she’s currently working on her doctorate. Virginia was quite impressed with her.”

“Any specifics?” Ed asked.

“Colonel Lake wrote her up for commendation last year for her work on the FTL drive system for Project Discovery, as well as a recommendation for promotion just before she came back to HQ.

Straker sat back thinking, Virginia Lake doesn’t impress easily, this young lady must be quite exceptional.

“Alright John, I want to see all three of them next week. I want you to look over her record and see if we can fast track her to Lt. Colonel.”

“I quickly looked it over, judging from what I’ve seen accelerated promotion should not be an issue.”

“What kind of structure are you considering?” asked Alec.

“A director and two deputies, they each will be responsible for their own territories. Colonel Blake will be in charge of the Advanced Weapons Division as well as being the overall department head, Lt. Colonel Kelly will oversee the European operation, and Major Wallace will have the operations in the States. John I want the promotion paperwork on my desk by the end of this week”

“Blake has a reputation of being difficult to work with,” said Alec.

“True,” said Ed. “But Blake and Kelly are very good friends and the oversight will be strictly for administrative purposes. If Blake wants to interfere with one of the other shops, he will have to justify it.”

“How are we going to get this through Henderson?” asked Grey.

“Ah, Henderson. I spoke to him this morning about this. While he didn’t yet know the names, he did approve the plan. The only fly in the ointment will be the accelerated promotion for Wallace, but when Henderson sees the recommendation from Colonel Lake that may not even be an issue. He seems to put quite a bit of confidence in her opinion.”

“Does that surprise you Ed?” asked Alec.

“In itself no, but Henderson has never meet Colonel Lake. When she came on board she went right into the research section. The General doesn’t usually bother meeting a new recruit, even a colonel, unless they are on the command staff.”

“He must have read her reports,” said John. “Some people express themselves quite well in their writing and delivery.”
Straker considered this, it was true that Virginia Lake had an innate ability to break down a complex problem and present it to someone who was not an expert, in terms that could be easily understood.

“You could be right John; anyway I think we’re finished here, thank you gentlemen.”


Gay sat in Ginny’s quarters savoring a cup of coffee.

“I haven’t had a chance to offer my condolences since you got back. How are you doing?” asked Gay.

“Thanks, I’ll be alright. Thanks to the Commander, I got there in time to say goodbye and be there when she passed.”

“You knew her well?”

“Yes, very well. When I was at Stanford, Professor Reinhardt was my theoretical physics instructor. I got to know both him and his wife very well. About eight years ago I came home early from work and found my husband in bed with my best friend. I was devastated and somehow managed to drive to the Reinhardt’s. They helped me through a difficult time.”

“I’m sorry; I didn’t know that you were ever married.”

“Although it’s on my service record, it’s not common knowledge otherwise. I’ve only told one other person besides you.”

Gay smiled, “Thanks Ginny.”

“So what did you think of Craig Collins?” asked Gay.

“He’s a bit on the familiar side, but he did bring us good coffee. He keeps doing that I may even let him call me by first name.”

“I think he’s sweet on you.”

“Oh come on Gay, I just met him.”

“He is a big flirt, but I saw something in his eyes when he looked at you.”

“Well he can look all he wants but I’m not interested.”

“You have someone special?”

“Yes…No, hell he doesn’t even know I exist.”

“That’s an interesting way to pursue a relationship.”

“It’s more of a fantasy than anything else. Would you like some more coffee, Gay?”

“No I need to get to bed, too much coffee will keep me awake, thanks Ginny.”

“Good night, Gay”

Virginia sat back as she finished her drink. She had never told anyone that the man she fantasized about was Ed Straker. Ever since she had met him over two years ago, his image had haunted her dreams and she had spent more than a few sleepless nights thinking about him.

When his son had tragically died after being struck by a car last year, Ed had called her a friend. She expected him to start calling her Virginia or Ginny instead of Colonel, but that never happened. It was a contradiction that drove her crazy. She never did like a puzzle that she could not solve and Commander Straker was a mystery. Maybe that was the reason she found him so attractive. No it was more than that. Ed Straker respected her as an expert in her field as well as respecting her as a person.


The next day, Captain Peter Carlin arrived on Moonbase to oversee the setup and testing of those applying for the test pilot positions. Those selected would later have first shot at the newly designed Skydiver 5. It was to be larger than her predecessors, and armed with hypersonic missiles tipped with variable yield nuclear warheads. The assignment as her captain would be a gem of a posting. In addition Straker had persuaded to IAC to fund land based aeroceptors. They would need crews as well as squadron leaders. That position was also quite desired as it meant a promotion to Lt. Colonel. Before the first round of tests Colonel Lake and Captain Carlin went over the applicants and schedule.

“So Colonel, the Commander tells me you have another pilot you would like to have considered.”

“Yes Peter, I do. You know Lt. Ellis don’t you?”

“Very well, I’m surprised she wants to transfer from Moonbase.”

Virginia considered for a moment before she responded. “Gay isn’t happy up here Peter, if she goes back under these circumstances; she’s going to end up at HQ on the low watch.”

“That would be a waste of talent,” said Peter. “I know the situation with her and Mark. What does Gay want to do if she were given the choice?”

“Skydiver 5. She dreams about that posting.”

“Her and everyone else on the list; what kind of flight experience does she have?”

“She can to SHADO from the RAF where she flew the Lightning.”

Peter Carlin was impressed; having flown that aircraft, he was aware of the skill required to master it.

“If she flew the Lightning she should do well.”

Virginia nodded, already knowing that. She shifted gears.

“Peter what is your training schedule going to look like?”

“I’m looking at doing four hours of basic flight maneuvers, four hours of combat flight procedures, followed by four hours of head to head. The off time would be used for what I call playtime.”

Virginia raised an eyebrow. Carlin smiled as he continued.

“I open the simulator to anyone with a basic flight rating. I’ve found quite a few combat pilots through that technique.”

Virginia was impressed, she remembered the first time she had met Peter Carlin. Phil Wade and she were waiting in Straker’s studio office as they had just arrived with the utronic equipment. Peter had taken them down the executive lift. Underneath his mild mannered outer appearance was a very keen mind.

“Pencil me in for some of the playtime Peter.”

“I will Colonel,” he said giving her a warm smile.


“The research directors are here to see you, sir.”

“Thanks, Keith. Send them in,” said Straker as he opened the doors to his office.

Ed stood and shook hands with the three officers.

“Colonel Blake, Lt Colonel Kelly, Major Wallace, thank you for coming. Please have a seat.”

Straker regarded them for a moment before he spoke.

“First of all, I want to congratulate all of you on your recent promotions.”

“Thank you sir,” the three said almost in unison.

“As all of you know, Colonel Lake is going to be on Moonbase for the next ten months. When she returns she will reassigned permanently to HQ as a senior member of the command staff, most likely as the executive officer.”

“Is Colonel Freeman retiring sir?” asked Blake.

“No, Alec is going to head up the new Skydiver project as well as the land based aeroceptor program. His knowledge of aeronautical engineering and metallurgy will be invaluable. Because of the size and scope of those two projects, I’ve decided to separate them from the research division.”

“We don’t have much going on right now at least in the European division,” said Kelly. “Is there anything we can do to support the new projects?”

Straker leaned back in his chair smiling, “You might want to wait until you see your next project, Joe.”

Ed pulled a set of folders out of his briefcase and handed a copy to each of them.

“Here is the next project for the SHADO research division, codenamed Project Poseidon. What you are looking at is an artist’s conception of a deep submergence vehicle or DSV. It will be designed to penetrate the world’s deeps oceans to seek out and destroy alien craft that take refuge there. This project is just as massive an undertaking as the aeroceptor projects. With the Subsmash incident a few months ago I realized that the world’s oceans are a perfect place for the aliens to stage. Colonel Lake projected that this project would take about two and a half years to complete.”

“Colonel Lake was almost always spot on, when she estimated a project time sir,” said Wallace.

“I know, that’s why I felt comfortable planning operations based on her estimates. Colonel Blake, you will be in overall command of the research division, but mostly in an administrative role, fiscal considerations, and so on. Let your two deputies handle their sections without too much interference from above. Besides Section seven is going to be quite busy designing the weapons systems for the DSV.”

“I understand sir,” said Blake.

“By the same token, if the two of you need input from Geoff, don’t be afraid to ask. I want this to be a team effort.”

“Yes sir,” they said.

“Alright that’s all for now. Major Wallace, would you remain for a moment please?”

“Certainly sir.”

When they were alone, Straker continued, “Colonel Lake speaks quite highly of you, Major. Based on her recommendation, I am putting you in for accelerated promotion. In six months you will be a Lieutenant Colonel, but you are going to have to earn it.”

Wallace was surprised, “Ginny, I mean Colonel Lake did that for me, sir?”

Straker smiled, “As you can see, her opinion carries quite a bit of weight around here, but you will still have to convince me that you deserve it. So far I’ve been very impressed with the reports from the States. I expect to see more of the same.”

“Yes sir, I won’t let you down,” she said excited.

“Thank you Major, that’s all.”

As she walked out of the office Paul Foster came in. He turned to watch her walk out.

“What can I do for you Paul?”

Straker’s question brought Paul back from his daydream. “The damage report for Skydiver 1,” he said as he handed Straker the report.

“Who was the young lady, sir?”

“That was the Deputy Director of advanced research, Major Wallace. Keep an eye on that young lady Paul. She is going places in this organization. You could learn a thing or two from her.”

“I’ll bet. I think I’d like to get to know her a lot better.”

“Forget it Paul, unless you want to transfer to New York. She was Virginia’s protégée.”

“I see, too bad.”

This man has a one track mind; Straker thought as he shifted gears, “Tell me about Skydiver.”

“The reactor is toast; it’s going to have to be completely replaced. The starboard engine is irreparable as well. The portside engine isn’t too bad. The sonar suite is shot as well, a total loss.”

“How long before she’ll be seaworthy?”

“Six months minimum.”

“How about Skydiver three, is she ready?”

“She starts sea trials next week.”

Straker already knew that, but he was glad to see that Foster was prepared for the question.

“Alright Paul, tell Captain Wallach to do everything he can within reason to shave time off the sea trials. I don’t like the idea of being down to one sub. That’s all for now.”

When Paul had left Ed sat back in his chair remembering the incident a few months ago aboard Skydiver. He had handpicked the crew for that mission and he was still haunted by the image of Lieutenant Chin lying dead on the deck; his eyes wide open. In all they were lucky. They suffered only a single causality out of the six people aboard that sub.

Straker had figured the sub to be a total loss and he was relieved to learn the salvage operation had been a success. Six months wasn’t all that bad considering that it would take over a year and a half to build one from scratch. Not to mention the cost of construction.
« Last Edit: Sep 22nd, 2010 at 2:08am by Matt »  

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