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Matt
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Best Friends Chapter Five a
May 31st, 2010 at 5:26am
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Chapter 5:
Ed Straker was driving in to HQ. Nine sightings at once had to be more than an anomaly. Colonel Lake had already brought Moonbase to red alert and he had ordered Foster to do the same at HQ. He picked up the phone.

“This is Straker, patch me through to Moonbase.”

A few seconds later Virginia Lake came on the line.

“Colonel Lake, what’s your situation?”

“We’re at red alert. The first wave of interceptors is en-route to the most likely interception point. The second wave is warmed up on the pads.”

“Any idea what the trajectory termination is yet?”

“No sir, they are too far out, we can’t triangulate on them until they get closer.”

Straker was frustrated, not for the first time, at the limitations of the tracking network. Damn the IAC for not funding more than one satellite.

“Alright, I’ll be at HQ in about ten minutes. Keep me posted Colonel.”

“Yes sir.”

Straker hung up the phone saying to himself, “Good luck Virginia.”


Red alert, red alert, Have multiple UFO’s on positive track. Range fifty million miles. Speed SOL 6. Trajectory termination, Moonbase operations area.


“Damn,” said Ginny. “Second wave, immediate launch, I repeat immediate launch.”

Gay Ellis punched up the target data for both sets of interceptors not waiting to be asked. “Targeting data being computed now,” she reported.

Ginny nodded as she keyed her mic, “Moonbase to SHADO control. “

“This is control, Foster here.”

“We have the trajectory termination as Moonbase operations area. Both waves of interceptors have been launched. Time on target for the first wave is five minutes. TOT for the second wave is ten minutes.”

“Very well, standby for Commander Straker.”

“Standing by.”

Ginny turned to Lt. Anders, “Joanna let’s get the ground defense launchers in place.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Moonbase, this is Straker.”

Ginny turned back to the vidlink, “Yes Commander?”

“Status report Colonel.”

“Both waves of interceptors are launched and ground defense launchers are being moved into position.”


Back at HQ Straker nodded. Virginia had covered all her bases, he had expected as much and he knew he didn’t need to look over her shoulder. “Very well, keep me posted Colonel. Good luck.”


“Yes sir, thank you sir.”

Ginny knew that the Commander was worried, and truth be told, so was she. This time they knew that they were the target.

“The first wave is reaching launch point, Colonel.”

“Very well.”


The first wave of interceptors soared through space rapidly closing with their target. Piloting Interceptor 1 was Lt. Stephen Harris. He double checked the targeting data as every shot had to count. He was very well aware that if they missed they may not have a base to return to.

“Interceptor leader to group; break formation.”

The three interceptors separated each closing on a group of UFO’s. They were hoping to get more than one apiece.
A minute later they were at launch point.

“Interceptor leader to group; Missile launch in five…four…three…two…one…launch!”

The three interceptors each launched their single nuclear warhead. A few minutes later three nuclear explosions ripped through the fabric of space.”


Back at Moonbase Gay watched her screen as the missiles exploded. Out of the nine targets, only five were left. “We got four of them Colonel.”

A cheer went up in the control sphere; their odds of survival had just increased significantly.

“How long before the second wave is in position?” asked Ginny.

“One minute, Colonel.”


The second wave of interceptors was being commanded by Lt. Andrew Conroy. He checked his targeting data. “Interceptor 4 to group; break formation.”

Piloting Interceptor 6 was Captain John Martin. He was still chaffed by the fact that his probation would not allow him to command the group. He just should have asked for a transfer Earth side until Lake was gone, but he wanted to fly. He wasn’t happy with the target data either.

“Andy, these numbers don’t look right.”
Conroy double checked his figures, “They look fine to me John.”

“The range is off; they can’t be that far away.”

“John, remember what happened last time. Just go with their numbers. Trust me they’re right.”

Martin wasn’t convinced; he activated the manual override on the targeting computer and changed the range settings.

“Interceptor 4 to group; missile launch in five…four…three…two…one…launch.”

The interceptors launched their missiles. Three more explosions ripped through space. The missile from interceptor six exploded a few seconds before the others allowing two UFO’s to avoid the explosion.


On Moonbase, Lt. Ellis watched the screen as two more targets disappeared from the screen. Four UFO’s were going to make it through.

“Four made it through Colonel.”

“Ginny activated the internal alarm as she spoke into the intercom, “This is Colonel Lake; all nonessential personal are to proceed to the shelter immediately.”

Ginny turned to the two women in the command sphere, “Alright girls, we don’t need to have all of us in here. Get to the shelter. Lt. Anders, transfer fire control to my station please.”

“Yes ma’am.”

Gay waited until Joanna had left, then turned to Ginny.

“I’m staying Ginny.”

“Gay, the ground defenses weren’t designed to handle four UFO’s, anyone that stays up here is putting them self at unnecessary risk.”

“Ginny, I’m not leaving my best friend up here alone, besides we stand a better chance with two people on fire control.”

Ginny knew she was right; it could make a difference.

“Alright, take the fire control station and launcher two.”

“Moonbase to SHADO control.”


In the underground headquarters of SHADO, Colonel Lake appeared on the vidlink. Ed Straker flipped up the mic to answer.

“This is Straker.”

“We were able to destroy five of the nine UFO’s. Four of them are inbound. I’ve ordered all but essential personal to the shelter.”

“How long until they arrive?”

“Five minutes. There isn’t enough time to rearm the interceptors. I’m holding them in orbit until it’s over…” her voice trailed off.

“Leave this channel open Colonel, we’ll be standing by.”

“Yes sir.”

Ed was worried; Moonbase was not well defended even with the ground defenses. He felt a pang in his heart as he realized he was worried about Virginia as well. She was a good friend and… Ed would not allow himself to finish the thought.

“Lt. Ford, put Skydiver 2 on alert. One of them may break off and head to Earth.” Hopefully, he thought.

“Yes sir.”


The four alien craft separated; two of them dropped down close the lunar surface, while the other two approached Moonbase from above.


In the control sphere, Ginny began to sweat from the tension and she could feel the adrenalin flowing. She aimed the launcher at the two craft as they approached. Outside the explosions shook the base as the UFO’s fired their directed energy weapons. One of the defense missiles found its mark and the alien craft exploded.

“I got one,” Ginny said to Gay.

Gay’s heart was beating in double time as she targeted the two craft approaching at ground level. She released a salvo of missiles destroying both alien craft.

“Two UFO’s destroyed,” she said.


The alien craft that Ginny had missed fired at Gay’s launcher destroying it.”


“Launcher two destroyed,” she said with a feeling of foreboding.


In lunar orbit Captain Martin was distraught, having made another serious error in judgment; one that might cost the lives of everyone on Moonbase. The second defense launcher had been destroyed and the first one was probably low on missiles.

Martin realized he had only one way to atone for his indiscretion. He reached a decision and fired his main engine and headed toward the surface.


The remaining UFO started its attack this time approaching along the lunar surface. It fired an energy beam at the last launcher destroying it.


In the control sphere Ginny looked at Gay, “That’s it, we’re wide open now.”

The two women walked to the window and watched as the UFO circled around for the final assault.


Captain Martin spotted the UFO skirting along the lunar surface. He put his interceptor in a dive towards the alien craft. His fear was checked by a sense of duty and obligation.


Gay and Ginny watched the alien craft as it approached determined to face death without showing the fear they both felt. Ginny thought she noticed something heading towards the alien craft.


When Martin was a few hundred feet from the UFO he accelerated to maximum speed. The SHADO interceptor collided with the alien craft; the force of the impact pushing it to the lunar surface. The UFO and the interceptor both exploded on contact.


In the command sphere the two women ducked as the base was showered with shrapnel. They could hear the pelting of metal on the skin of the sphere.


Ginny rushed back to the center console. “Colonel Lake to all sections, damage report!” Turning to Gay she said, “Gay check atmospheric pressure in all sections.”

Ellis punched up the systems check routine and looked at the pressure readings. “Readings are all normal Colonel, for now.”

Ginny nodded knowing they would have to do an inspection on the outer skin very shortly. “Moonbase to interceptors, report in.”

The five remaining interceptors reported in and Ginny had them return to base.

“Moonbase to SHADO control.”


At HQ Straker walked to the communications console and took the mic. “I’m glad to see you still in one piece Colonel, what’s your situation?”

On the monitor Ed could see Virginia reading the damage report, “The explosion was very close to the base, less than a thousand yards. The atmospheric integrity is still okay, but we are going to have to survey the outer skin for damage. Some of the secondary systems have been knocked offline most of them just circuit breakers that tripped during the explosion.”

“Casualties?” Ed asked afraid of the answer.

“Only one, Captain Martin. He saved the base by ramming the UFO with his interceptor.”

“I see, I’ll need a detailed report on that after you handle the more pressing matters. Good job Colonel, pass my congratulations along to your crew.”

“Thank you sir.”

As Ed walked back to his office offered a silent prayer of thanks, for more than one reason.
« Last Edit: Sep 22nd, 2010 at 1:45am by Matt »  

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Re: Best Friends Chapter Five b
Reply #1 - Jun 1st, 2010 at 11:21pm
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That afternoon Ed Straker was in his office studying the reports and telemetry sent down from Moonbase. He found two of the reports disturbing each creating its own set of problems. As he finished the last report, Alec Freeman walked in to see him.

“You look tired Ed.”

“It’s been a long day,” Ed said as he closed the doors.

“Drink?” Alec asked hopefully.

“You know better than that,” said Ed going through the ritual again.

“Take a look at this report Alec. It’s the telemetry from interceptor six.”

Freeman took the report and quickly scanned through it.
When he came to the targeting data, he looked up. “Martin changed the range settings.”

“Yes, he disobeyed orders, again.”

“Too bad, he’d have been a shoe in for the Medal of Honor, even if it was awarded posthumously.”

“Yes, now read this report.”
Alec took the report and looked at the title, “Tracking data?” he asked.

“The pertinent information is on page thirty.”

Alec read the section that Ed had mentioned. He reread the conclusion twice before he looked up.

“It didn’t make any difference, Martin would have missed anyway.”

“Yes. Alec, I’ve been arguing with Henderson over the design of the tracking system for years now. Space tracking is, three dimensional, trigonometry. The more distance you have between your tracking assets; the better your accuracy will be. Any high school student could tell you that. The other problem we have is the finite delay of the radio links.”

“Henderson will never give us the money for more satellites.”

“That’s a battle for another day. In the mean time we have to figure out what to do about Captain Martin. Any thoughts?”

“I don’t know Ed, it’s a damn shame having him go out like this, but he did disobey orders.”

“Well had his actions caused the problem, I’d be the first to hang him out to dry. His figures were closer than the tracking system. He just over compensated.”

“What does Ginny think?”

“She’s angry as hell about the whole thing, the fact that he disobeyed orders, the fact that the tracking data was off, the fact that our system is flawed, shall I go on?”

“She must have an opinion about Martin?”

“She does. Alec I don’t know what surprises me more, the idea she had, or the fact that I agree with it.”

“Well don’t keep me in suspense, what did she say?”

“She wants to have him decorated.”

“The Medal of Honor?”

“Martin is career military; his family thinks he is still an air force pilot. He has a young wife and two small children. His family would be entitled to special benefits if he is decorated.”

Straker paused for a few minutes before continuing.

“Here is Colonel Lake’s report on the incident. It clearly states that had it not been for the selfless action of Captain Martin, no one on Moonbase would have survived the attack. The UFO was apparently packing some heavy hardware, that’s why it exploded on impact.”

“You surprise me sometimes Ed.”

“How’s that?”

“Sometimes you seem almost human,” he said with a grin."
« Last Edit: Sep 22nd, 2010 at 2:10am by Matt »  

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Re: Best Friends Chapter Five c
Reply #2 - Jun 2nd, 2010 at 5:39pm
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Captain Carlin closed rapidly on the jet piloted by Colonel Lake. He had been engaged in a dogfight for almost ten minutes. Damn, Ginny can hold her own, he thought. He was just about to get a missile lock when he suddenly flew right by her. “Damn,” he said aloud as he recognized the maneuver instantly.

Carlin pulled his jet into an aggressive vertical climb as he kicked in the afterburners. He looped his jet and started a dive towards Lake’s aircraft.

Ginny had executed the maneuver perfectly, but Peter Carlin was an experienced fighter pilot. She saw him go ballistic and was unable to follow him in the climb. Ginny pushed the nose over and picked up speed banking hard to the right. She knew she had to put some distance between them or she was going to get smoked.

Peter closed rapidly with Ginny’s aircraft and quickly lined up the shot. He fired his missiles. Two seconds later her aircraft exploded.

This time the cheers went up from the guys, as the groans came from the gals.

Ginny got up from the simulator to shake hands with Peter, “Congratulations Peter, nice match.”

“Thank you, Colonel. You did quite well for someone with no combat experience. You have the dead stop maneuver down to an art. You’ll be one hell of a fighter pilot with a tad more experience.”

“Thanks,” she said as she walked over to Gay.

“Okay, what did I do wrong?” Ginny asked quietly.

“You made the same mistake I did. You can’t follow him in a climb when your airspeed is that low. You have to push your nose over and kick in the afterburners to get your speed back up. Also don’t stay in a tight turn too long. It eats up too much airspeed.”

Ginny listened carefully noticing no apprehension in Gay’s demeanor as she spoke. She finally had her confidence back, Ginny thought to herself.


A few weeks later Straker had finished the interviews for the new Skydiver 5 Captain. He had narrowed the list down to two people, Lt. Roberts and Lt. Ellis. This was going to be a difficult decision and he needed some input from a trusted source.

The image of Keith Ford appeared on the vidlink, “Colonel Lake to see you sir.”

“Oh thanks Keith, send her right in.”

The office doors were open and Ed stood as Virginia walked in. “Join me for breakfast Colonel?”

“Thank you sir.”

They sat down at the conference table and Ed poured coffee for both of them.

“Buy the way Colonel, I have something for you.”

“Sir?”

Ed reached over to his desk and picked up a bag and handed it to her. A surprised smile came to her face as she looked in the bag.

“Is this what I think it is?”

“Fresh ground Columbian coffee, but you can’t tell anyone where you got it. It would ruin my reputation as a hard ass.”

Ginny gave him a knowing smile as she said teasingly, “I think your reputation is safe. Thank you sir, I do appreciate it.”

“When do you have to leave for Moonbase?”

“This afternoon,” she said.

Ed forced himself to look down at the report in front of him, distracting himself from certain thoughts.

“I want to go over the interviews with you; I’ve narrowed the list down to Jeff Roberts, and Gay Ellis. I’ve read your recommendation and I’d like you to elaborate on it.”

Ginny now felt like she was walking a tightrope. Damn him, I hate it when he does that! She took a deep breath and reiterated the important points in her recommendation.

“Lt. Ellis is a natural pilot, sir. Her skills in an aircraft rival Peter Carlin, by his own admission. And she still hasn’t risen to her potential.”

“Yes, I read his report as well. When I interviewed Gay last week she exuded confidence that I haven’t seen from her in a long time. I was very impressed. It speaks highly of her, and of you Colonel. Your hard work helped a good officer regain her confidence.”

“Thank you sir.”

Ginny was having a lot of trouble trying to figure out where the Commander was heading, again hating a puzzle that eluded her.

“This is my concern Colonel, if I put Lt. Ellis in this position it takes her out of the running for accelerated promotion. She is next in line to command Moonbase as a Lt. Colonel once you finish your tour of duty. As a Skydiver Captain she will be reporting to Peter Carlin, who is going to be overseeing naval operations sometime next year.”

He is just as impressed with her as I am, Ginny thought. She made a decision.

“Commander, Gay would be much happier being posted to Skydiver. It is really what she wants to do, it’s the best thing for SHADO, and it’s the best thing for her.”

“The two of you have become close I see.”

“Yes sir, we have,” she answered.

Ed sat back in his chair considering, “Who would you recommend to replace her at Moonbase?”

“Nina Barry,” Ginny answered without hesitation. “Gay and I split the shifts a couple of months back so Nina has had a chance to gain some experience. She has an aptitude for command. And she enjoys what she does.”

Ed knew that Virginia Lake would not stake her reputation on a cause unless she was absolutely sure of herself. Virginia had recommended Major Wallace who was working out extremely well. In the end, he trusted her judgment.

“Would you like to give Captain Ellis the good news?”

“I would love to. Thank you sir.”
« Last Edit: Sep 22nd, 2010 at 2:10am by Matt »  

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Re: Best Friends Chapter Five a
Reply #3 - Jun 3rd, 2010 at 7:24pm
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“I’d reached another decision as well.”

“Sir?”

“In nine months your assignment at Moonbase will be completed. At that time you will be reassigned to HQ as my executive officer. A position I intend to make permanent.”

“Why? What about Alec?” she asked shocked.

“Alec informed me this morning of his intention to retire once the aeroceptor projects are completed.”

“I see,” she said wanting to ask but thought better of it.

Alec was Ed’s best friend and she couldn’t help but wonder how much more there was to this.

“I’m going to start sending you the same reports that Alec see’s as well as involving you in senior staff discussions. It’s going to be a lot of extra work for you, but I’m sure you can handle it. Have Nina take over some of your duties on Moonbase if need be. If she’s going to command the base, we might as well break her in right.”

Virginia gave him a knowing grin having thought the same thing.

They finished breakfast and Ed stood up with her as she prepared to leave.

“Oh Colonel?”

“Yes Commander?”

“Have a safe flight.”

She smiled, “Thank you sir.”



Epilogue:
The lunar module touched down just as the mid watch had taken over. Gay rushed from the control sphere to the reception sphere to meet Ginny.

Gay arrived just as she was descending the ladder. The two women joined hands.

“Welcome back Ginny, how was your flight?”

“Fun as always, you know I’m going to miss this when I transfer back to HQ. I can’t believe it’s been three months already.”

“I know it. Let me help you with those,” Gay said as she grabbed one of her bags.

When they arrived in her quarters, Ginny opened one of the bags and pulled out a paper bag. She handed it to Gay.

“Look what I have.”

Gay’s eyes went wide when she saw what was inside. “Fresh ground coffee?”

“Compliments of Commander Straker.”

“You’re kidding!”

“No, it surprised me too. I think he was just being nice for a change. That man is a puzzle I’ll never figure out.”

“Isn’t that the truth,” Gay said ruefully.

Ginny set up the small four cup coffee maker she was able to find while she was on Earth. In a few minutes the two women were waiting for the machine to finish brewing.

“I have some news for you Gay.”

Uh oh, here it comes, she thought.

“I saw the Commander just before I left Earth, and he had the list down to two people for the Skydiver 5 posting.”

“Who made the cut?”

“Lt. Roberts and you.”

Gay’s heart skipped a beat as she saw Ginny smile.

“Congratulations, Captain Ellis.”

Gay screeched in delight as she went over to hug her best friend.

“I can’t believe it!” she said tears of joy now flowing.

“Commander Straker was worried that giving you this posting would be depriving you of a better position. He thinks very highly of you Gay. He said you did quite well in the interview.”

“I thought I blew it to be honest. I guess I have you to thank for convincing him?”

“I persuaded him to consider all the aspects. He really didn’t need much convincing.”

“Ginny, I can’t thank you enough, somehow words just aren’t enough.”

“Seeing your reaction was all the thanks I’ll ever need. So anyway it won’t be official until next week and the Commander asked that you keep it confidential until the announcement is made. You will be reporting to the SHADO Naval Training Center in two weeks. The school is eight months, which will be followed by six months of test pilot school at Dreamland. Here’s the best part, Mark will be assigned to Dreamland the same time you are.”

“I didn’t know he had been accepted!”

“Neither does he; yet. Ed will be telling him tomorrow.”

“Ginny I’m so happy, I can’t tell you.”

“Just make sure you keep in touch, okay?”

The room was filling with aroma of fresh brewed coffee. Ginny got up to pour them both a cup. She handed one to her best friend saying, “Cheers.”
END

You see Denise it really is about the coffee!  Smiley
« Last Edit: Sep 22nd, 2010 at 2:10am by Matt »  

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