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Normal Topic Best Friends Chapter Four (Read 821 times)

Everyone at SHADO drinks

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Location: Coventry, RI
Best Friends Chapter Four
May 30th, 2010 at 5:54am
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Chapter 4:
Gay pulled her jet into an aggressive vertical climb narrow avoiding the missile launched by the enemy aircraft. She kicked in the afterburners and the jet accelerated rapidly. She looped her jet around and dove on the aircraft that was pursuing her. The growl in her headset indicated that she had missile lock. Gay fired her missile and a few seconds later the enemy craft exploded in a ball of flame.

A cheer from the ladies went up behind her as she turned from the simulator and removed her helmet. On the other side of the room the men were groaning. Peter Carlin walked up to Gay extending his hand.

“Nice match Gay. Congratulations.”

“Thanks Peter. I guess that makes us even.”

“Are you up for a rematch?”

“Maybe later, that last one took everything I had.”

“I was hoping you would say that.”

The two of them had been in the simulator for over an hour with one victory each. That was a long time considering that the average engagement was less than ten minutes. This simulation was the finale of the testing session and no one had ever beaten Peter Carlin in the simulator. Gay had the highest scores of anyone tested, both on Moonbase and planet side.

Ginny came over and gave her a big hug, “Congratulations Gay.”

“Thanks Ginny. I can’t believe I actually beat him!”

Both Carlin and Ellis had worked up a sweat from the tension of the engagement.

“I need a shower,” said Gay.

“Why don’t you go take one and I’ll meet you in the leisure sphere in about ten minutes. I still have some of that good coffee left, enough for two cups.”

“That sounds great!”

Ginny watched Gay leave when Peter came up to her.

“That was a good recommendation Ginny. Gay is at the top of the class. She’s a real natural.”

“I had a feeling that she would be Peter.” Ginny looked at him and asked quietly, “Tell me the truth Peter, did you fly at your best?”

Peter Carlin laughed, “Look at me Colonel, I’m drenched. Seriously I was flying for all I was worth. The only reason I beat her the first time is that she made a slight error that I was able to capitalize on. With a little more experience no one in SHADO will be able to touch her, except maybe Ed Straker and he doesn’t count.”

“Ed beat you in the simulator?”

“Until today he was the only one.”

“How do you think she would do against him?”

“I don’t know Ginny, that’s a tough call. Ed Straker is an exceptionally skilled fighter pilot. He smoked me in about twenty minutes. Still Gay is just hitting her stride. It would be interesting to see.”

“Peter what do you think her chances are of landing the Skydiver 5 assignment?”

“If you go just by the test scores, she would have it nailed. But it’s more than that, as you well know. A Skydiver Captain is responsible for a lot more than flying. Her experience on Moonbase will certainly help. I would put her in the top five. Straker usually interviews the top ten. Anything she can do to improve herself between now and the time the interviews are done can only help.”

“Thanks, Peter.”

“Oh, Colonel?”


“Are you still up for that match tomorrow?”

“I wouldn’t miss it.”

“Gay and Ginny sat in the leisure sphere of Moonbase enjoying the last bit of coffee that Collins had provided.

“This really was good coffee, Gay.”

“I know it. I was thinking, the next time one of us is down on Earth we should pick up a small coffee pot and some good coffee.”

“We might have trouble smuggling up the pot but the coffee itself shouldn’t be an issue. That’s a good idea. You know Gay, Peter was telling me that you are only the second person to beat him in the simulator.”

“Who else, no wait, let me guess? Commander Straker?”

“None other, of course that is unofficial as Ed doesn’t fly combat anymore. I just thought you would like to know the company you’re keeping now.”

“I understand you’re going up against Peter tomorrow, Ginny.”

“Yes, and I’ll probably only last a few minutes. He’ll be laughing at me over the radio.”

“I don’t know Ginny, I saw you beat some good pilots today. I loved it when you slammed on the brakes and Harris flew right by you. He didn’t know what happened until you put a missile up his tailpipe.”

The maneuver that Ginny had used was not easy to execute as the pilot can easily stall the aircraft if their timing is not right. It was done by extending the airspeed brakes cutting the throttle and pulling back on the stick. This would cause the aircraft to drop a hundred knots of airspeed in a very short time. The trick was to push the nose back down, pull in the brakes, and firewall the throttle just as the enemy aircraft was flying by. If the pilot waited too long the aircraft would stall and go into a flat spin. If they didn’t wait long enough the enemy aircraft would end up right on their tail. It took practice to get it right and Ginny had the maneuver down to an art.

“Harris is a space pilot; he flies with a different set of rules. Peter would have seen that coming. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t try it. Enough about me, Peter said you were at the top of the class, that’s quite an accomplishment.”

“Ginny I know the only way I’m going to get that posting is to be head and shoulders above the rest. It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is.”

“I know that feeling,” Ginny said ruefully. “But remember who we are talking about. You’ve known Ed Straker longer than I have. When have you ever seen him make a decision based on a preconceived notion?”

“Never, you know sometimes he treats me like a daughter, and sometimes I don’t think he likes me at all.”

Virginia was very much aware of the puzzle that was Ed Straker. She had been trying to make sense of it for the past couple of years and she was sure it would take much longer than that to unravel.

“I know for a fact that he as a very high opinion of you. He agreed to put you in the testing program with almost no persuasion on my part. This program is too important to waste resources to appease someone’s feelings. He wouldn’t have agreed to it if he didn’t have confidence in your abilities. A word of advice, when you go in for your interview you can’t show any self doubt. You have to convince him that you are the best person for the job, and the only way you will do that to believe in yourself. My mother used to tell me to picture it happening in my mind. Put it in the realm of possibility.”

“Thanks, Ginny, I think you are the best friend I’ve ever had. I mean that.”

Virginia rewarded her with a big smile as for her the title of best friend was an honor. She had not had a best friend in years as she was reluctant to bestow that title or trust on anyone. It had hurt her deeply when she found her former best friend in bed with her husband. And yet she trusted Gay without reservation probably because she had been forthright from the beginning. To Ginny that trait had spoken volumes.

“Thanks Gay, I honored to have you as mine.”

Virginia was on the vidlink with Earth. She had decided to recommend Gay for the Skydiver 5 posting.

“Alec, you remember last month when I mentioned that I might have another test pilot for you?”

“Yes I do. Who is it?”

“Lieutenant Ellis.”

“Gay Ellis? You’re kidding?”

“No her test scores are in the stratosphere. She was at the very top of the class, and she beat Peter Carlin in a head to head match. They are tied at one apiece. Alec I want to recommend her as the commanding officer for Skydiver 5 when it’s completed. I need to know if you would support that decision.”

“You say she was at the top of the class, and she beat Peter Carlin? I’d be a fool not to support it. But I’m not the one to convince.”

“I know, but I think I can convince Ed as long as I have your support.”

“You know Ginny a lot is going to depend on the interview.”

“Yes and that will be up to Gay.”

“Why is this so important to you Ginny?”

“Gay is a kindred spirit, Alec. She’s my best friend.”

Alec knew Ginny well enough to know she was very selective of her friends. He thought of his own friendship with Ed and the lengths he would go to for him.

“When are you going to talk to Ed?” he asked.

“After Peter has sent down the test results; I want Ed to have them at his fingertips when we discuss this.”

“Alright Ginny, let me know if I can help in any other way.”

“Thanks, Alec.”

The Space Intruder Detector satellite sat parked at the L5 libration point, sixty degrees behind the moon in lunar orbit. SID had not had as much as a single sighting in almost four weeks. Although most of those who heard it would say that it had a personality, it was in fact a mindless automaton following a preprogrammed set of instructions. Craig Collins had called it an artificial personality and since he knew more about it than anyone else, his opinion was widely accepted.

At the moment the computer was analyzing a signal return from the FTL radar, the utronic beam, the eyes of SHADO, as Ed Straker had called it. The signal return was slowly but surely rising to a finite number that would set a conditional branch in the programming. When that happened, the computer logic would branch to a new set of instructions. The satellite continued analyzing, unaffected by boredom or repetition.

In the control sphere of Moonbase, Gay Ellis sat at the command console supervising the low watch. The last few weeks had been quiet, too quiet. Usually when it was like this for a while the next attack was massive. Gay knew that the base was exposed and sooner or later the aliens would take advantage of it.

Straker had originally pushed for a base that was completely under the lunar surface, but the cost and logistics of building such a facility were astronomical. In the end he had to concede; an exposed base was better than no base at all. She knew that sometime in the future he would secure funding for a larger more protected base and the existing facility would be instrumental in supporting the construction.

SID continued to monitor the signal return from the unknown target as the signal slowly rose to the branch threshold. As it passed the preprogrammed number the satellite executed the conditional branch in the programming.

This is Space Intruder Detector. I have a sighting, area 147-242 BLUE, the baritone voice came through the speakers at all the SHADO installations. On Moonbase Lt. Ellis turned to Lt. Anders and said, “Confirm sighting Joanna.”

Lt. Anders checked the coordinates on her radar screen verifying the sighting.”

“Sighting confirmed, area 147-242 Blue.”

“Very well, signal Yellow Alert,” Gay said as she turned back to her mic. “Moonbase to SHADO control; we have a sighting, area 147-242 Blue.”

At HQ, Colonel Paul Foster had the low watch this week. He watched the data being relayed from SID and Moonbase. He checked his watch, it read 04:30. Straker had left orders to be called if anything came up but Paul didn’t want to wake him for nothing.

“Lt. Paulson let’s wait until we have confirmation before you call the Commander. I don’t want to wake him unless it's necessary.”

“Yes sir,” the blonde lieutenant answered.

On Moonbase Gay was listening to her inner voice. It was telling her that this was going to be more than just a routine sighting. She pressed the intercom to ring up the Base Commander. Ginny appeared on the screen appearing somewhat disheveled.

“Yes Gay.”

“Sorry to wake you Ginny, but we have a sighting.”

“Has it been confirmed?”

“Not yet, but I have a feeling about this one.”

Ginny recognized intuition as a command prerogative, and she trusted Gay’s intuition.

“I’ll be right there.”

This is SID, I have a second sighting, area 148-242 BLUE, third sighting, area 150-242 BLUE, fourth sighting, area 152-242 BLUE, fifth sighting, area 154-242 BLUE, sixth sighting, area 156-242 BLUE, seventh sighting, area 158-242 BLUE, eighth sighting, area 160-242 BLUE, niinth sighing, area 162-242 BLUE.

“Damn,” said Foster. “Get the Commander on the line, now!”

He knew he was going to regret waiting.

On Moonbase, Ginny rushed into the control sphere in time to hear SID call off the last sighting. “Nine? Did I hear that right?”

“Yes, but none of them have been confirmed be SID yet,” Gay said as she vacated the command console. Gay had to suppress a grin having never seen Ginny in the purple wig.

“Bad hair day,” Ginny said noticing Gay’s reaction.

Ginny looked at the tactical display. Like Gay, she had a bad feeling about this. She reached over to the alert panel and activated a switch.

“Red alert, red alert. Interceptors immediate launch. I say again immediate launch.”

Ginny turned to Lt. Anders, “Joanna, have the secondary interceptor team on the pads as soon as the primary team has lifted off”

“Yes ma’am”

“Gay, any change on the sightings?”

“No ma’am, but confidence still remains high.”

Ginny hated this part. Until the UFO’s got closer they had inaccurate tracking data, they needed more satellites to better triangulate their position. All it took was money.
Right now all they could do was wait.
« Last Edit: Sep 22nd, 2010 at 2:09am by Matt »  

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