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Re: Glitch in the Machine Matt's take
Reply #15 - Aug 9th, 2010 at 7:45pm
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Chapter 7:
It took almost four hours to round up the rest of the aliens and purge the base of the neurotoxin. They were only able to capture three of the invaders alive and the exercise had cost another life. Moonbase had lost thirteen people, half of its complement that weekend, mostly from the technical section. HQ was sending a pair of shuttles to replenish the staff and recover the dead. The damage to the base while extensive was repairable but it was going to take almost a month to bring the base back to full operational readiness. With one of the living spheres damaged and depressurized space was going to be tight for a while.

In addition to the shuttles three supply ships, with the capability to land next to the base, were en-route carrying much needed spare parts and equipment. Over the next month they would ferry the pieces needed to assemble three new interceptors to replace the ones that were lost.

Jen, Ginny and Matt, sat in the leisure sphere enjoying a much needed break. Matt had opted for Earl Grey tea rather than risk drinking the atomic sludge that was called coffee on the base.

“Matt you really should try some of this, it will help your attitude,” said Ginny.

“What’s wrong with my attitude?”

“I don’t want you getting cocky, now that you think you can fix particle beam weapons.” She said grinning at him touching his nose with her finger.

“How about if I just get frisky instead,” he said as he pulled her closer.

“Matt…stop it, save it for later.”

“Is that a promise?” he asked looking deep into her eyes.

“Yeah, count on it,” she said drawing him in for a long gentle kiss.

Jen was sitting opposite of them and she could no longer suppress the giggles.

“Look at you two carrying on, isn’t love grand?” asked Jen still snickering.

“Yeah, it is. You should try it sometime Jen,” said Ginny.

“Oh I will, I’ve already got my eyes on Mr. Right.”

“Who?” asked Matt and Ginny in unison.

“You’ll find out, it’s sure to cause an uproar, and I know I’m going to have to chase him.”

“Somehow I can’t imagine you having to chase anyone,” Matt said turning to his wife. “What do you think honey?”

“I’d have to agree, I can only think of one man in the world that you would have to chase…You don’t mean…Ed?” she asked astounded.

Jen flushed slightly, her secret out, “I wasn’t going to say anything, knowing how you felt about him once, I feel kinda’ funny.”

“Jen, don’t worry about that, Ed and I were too much alike and I think that’s why he never gave me a second look. As it worked out it was for the best as I ended up with my childhood sweetheart.” She said cuddling closer to her husband. “By the way Matt, I understand Nina wants to write you up for a commendation, as your actions saved the base.”

“Gin, I’m a civilian, how can she do that? Besides I don’t deserve anything special. I was just trying to keep us from getting killed or worse. No way, I don’t want any decorations, commendations, or ticker tape parades. If SHADO needs to honor someone, then honor the thirteen people who gave it all. Those people are the real heroes.”

“Well Straker will probably change your mind; he has a way of doing that you know. Anyway, I’m proud of you, very proud.”

Jen watched Matt look at his wife and she could see that her approval was worth more to him than anything else. Ginny is so blessed, she thought.
« Last Edit: Sep 22nd, 2010 at 12:06am by Matt »  

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Re: Glitch in the Machine Matt's take
Reply #16 - Aug 10th, 2010 at 7:51pm
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The trio was Earth bound as few hours later and this time Matt was able to savor the experience. Jen was fast asleep and he and Ginny were engaged in quiet conversation. They were set to land in London rather than New York and they were debating staying in England until her meeting with Henderson. They wanted to visit her mother and give her the good news, and Keith had invited then to a family gathering that coming weekend. And of course there was the memorial service to attend and the thought of that damped Matt’s enthusiasm considerably.

“What’s wrong Matt? I thought you’d be in seventh heaven right now?” asked his wife noticing his change of mood immediately.

“I’m just counting up the cost; we lost thirty good people this weekend. Unlike the hardware, they can't be replaced. At least not right away, and all their dreams, all they’d hoped for; all gone. They can never be replaced.”

“You sound more and more like Ed every day.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment; God he must be going through hell right now. You know Gin; after I got off the vidlink with you, before you left for Moonbase, I was thinking about how Ed had to deal with all the loss of life, I don’t know if I could.”

“Don’t sell yourself short Matt; I see a lot of the traits that make Ed the leader he is, in you.”

“Come on Virginia, in my wildest dreams I could never do what he does. I don’t have the knowledge or experience. I could never replace him, ever.”

“All I’m saying is that you have the potential. Knowledge and experience we gain over time. One of the things that attracted me to you is I saw a born leader; someone who was willing to stand up for his convictions. Your passion, about not wanting your book turned into a trashy movie, just to make a buck, impressed me immensely.”

“Gin, there’s a big difference between being passionate about a cause like a book and being passionate about SHADO.”

“How so; what’s the difference?” she asked.

Matt thought about it before he answered not being able to put the concept into words. Finally he said, “It’s the scope of the matter I guess.”

“But the emotion, the drive is the same. Matt you are right; we lost a lot of good people this weekend and they are going to have to be replaced. Ed is going to have to shuffle people around to get things done. There will be some new opportunities and you might find one come your way. I was serious when I told you that Nina was putting you in for a commendation. Ed has already seen your worth to the organization; he wouldn’t have sent you up here otherwise.”

The speaker came to life with the voice of the pilot, “EOI in fifteen minutes. All passengers prepare for reentry.”

When the announcement ended Matt continued, “Virginia, I’m going to be a father, and with your responsibilities in the research section, I’m going to have to be home more than I am now. I know that both our mothers have volunteered to help us but they can’t be here all the time and I don’t want our child raised by a stranger.”

“As soon as they install the new computer network I’ll be able to work from home. I’ll only have to go in once every couple of weeks.”

“When is that going to happen?” asked Matt.

“A few weeks from now, that’s why I wanted a room for a home office. I wanted it to be a surprise. With you semi retired we would have seen a lot more of each other. But things have changed and SHADO is going to need both of us.”

“What makes you think Ed will want to bring me on full time?”

“Trust me,” she said with a grin.

Matt looked at his wife considering the things she had said. He had only known her for a few months including the time they spent together as children, but he felt as if he had known her all his life and he knew she wouldn’t make a comment like this unless she was sure. If she thought that Ed was going to bring him in full time then he needed to seriously consider it.

The next morning Colonel Wallace walked into Ed’s office with two cups of coffee.

“Good morning Commander.”

“Good morning Jen,” he said without looking up until he smelled the aroma of her favorite blend.

He looked up has she handed him a cup as she smiled at him.

“For me? Jen you’re going to spoil me. If I didn’t know better I’d say you had an ulterior motive.”

“Who’s saying I don’t,” she said with a grin before quickly changing the subject. “Where’s Paul this morning?”

“I sent him to survey the damage done to the two telemetry stations he’ll be back in a couple of days.”

Straker finished the report he was working on and gave her his full attention.

“I just finished going over Nina’s report and I’d like you take on it, specifically the parts about Matt Hewett.”

“I read the report last night; I think her assessment is spot on. Matt’s actions saved the base, especially his work on the particle beam. That tipped the balance.”

“Do his actions warrant a bronze?”

“Well sir when the aliens tried to breach the command sphere, Matt took point. And I’ll tell you something, he’s one hell of a good shot.”

“That wasn’t in the report.”

“No sir it wasn’t and Matt asked me not to make a big deal of it. As he put it, he had a pregnant wife to protect.”

“But you think there was more to it than that?”

“Yes sir, I do. I got to spend some time with him just before he and Ginny got married and while we were on Moonbase. There’s a lot more to that man than meets the eye. Why do you think Ginny married him?”

“I could see that the first time I met him. Well it will be interesting to read Virginia’s take on this after I make my decision.”

“You’re not going to read it now, sir?”

“No, but not for the reason you might think. I don’t want to give the appearance that she influenced my decision in any way.”

“I see,” she said with a new admiration for her boss. So Commander, are you going to Keith’s on Saturday afternoon? Ginny and Matt will be there as will Paul and Jane.”

“I was invited but I’m thinking about taking a pass as I’ll feel like the odd man out.”

“I know the feeling; so why don’t you take me?”

Ed looked at her with a bemused expression on his face surprised that she would be interested considering the difference in their ages.

“That is unless you’d be embarrassed to be seen with me,” she said with a grin.

“No that’s not the case at all I…”

“Good, you can pick me up at three. And don’t forget your swim trunks; it’s supposed to be warm on Saturday.”

“Jen, are you sure this is a good idea?”

“Commander, you need to unwind and relax a little, it will do you good.”

“If we’re going to go out socially, I think maybe you should call me Ed,” he said quietly.

“Alright, Ed. Well I have to get to the control room. Colonel Blake gets cranky when I’m late to relieve him.”



“Thanks for the coffee.”

“You’re welcome Ed.”

That Saturday was warm for a fall day, perfect weather for a pool party. Ed found that he was not only enjoying himself but he also enjoyed Jen’s company. Although she was twelve years his junior she acted much older. In fact it was hard for him to keep his eyes off of her as she had chosen a green bikini that matched her eyes. She would catch his gaze every now and then and give him a beautiful smile knowing he was watching her. My God she is beautiful, he thought.

Keith Ford turned out to be a skilled backyard chef as the food was excellent. Ed who was quite at home in the kitchen had listened with interest as Matt and Keith discussed methods of preparing steaks on the grill. From the sounds of it Matt was quite at home in the kitchen himself.

“Are we having a good time?” asked Jen as she strolled up next to him.

“Oh hi, yes I am. Keith really knows how to throw a party,” he said as he watched his communications chief in the pool with his two kids. He had never seen this side of the man and Ed realized that there was a lot he didn’t know about the people who worked for him. They were distracted by a commotion on the other side of the pool.

“Uh oh Ed, Matt’s going to take Ginny for an unplanned swim.”

“He wouldn’t?”

Matt was carrying his wife to the deep end while she protested loudly, “Matt if you do this you will take me to the opera, Matt…”

The splash swallowed the rest of her protest as he jumped in with her.

“Boy I guess he is brave,” said Ed.
Jen was stifling the giggles as she watched the two of them carry on splashing each other.

“I’ll gladly take you to the opera honey,” Matt said laughing as he pulled Ginny close for a long kiss.

“He’s probably the only person in the world who could get away with that,” said Jen. “The girl can’t help it. She loves him.” She paused for a moment then said, “Are you going to take me for a swim Ed?”

“You mean like they did?”

“No, I was thinking of something a little more private, there’s a swimming hole on the way home, by the time we leave it should be deserted.”

“I think I could be persuaded. This could get complicated you know,” he said.

“I knew it would cause an uproar, but I’m used to that kind of thing.”

Ed wanted to kiss her right then and there but he restrained himself, and he could see her doing the same, but later on would be a different matter indeed.
« Last Edit: Sep 22nd, 2010 at 12:07am by Matt »  

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Re: Glitch in the Machine Matt's take
Reply #17 - Aug 11th, 2010 at 4:43pm
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Monday morning was organized insanity at SHADO HQ, as Ed worked to shuffle staff around, to fill the voids caused by last week’s casualties. He ended up taking the two repair techs from the New York tracking station, much to Colonel Johns’ dismay. But Ed needed trained people on Moonbase and the Earth side installations would have to make due until replacements could be trained. He turned his attention to Paul Foster.

“So Paul, how bad is it?”

“Both telemetry installations were completely destroyed. There was nothing to salvage, but the good news is we can jury rig a station at Both the New York and Sydney tracking stations.”

“Well that’s something. Paul I’m going to have you handle the Sydney portion along with Joe Kelly. Virginia and Matt will take care of New York. Do you think Jane would mind going to Sydney for a few months?”

“No, I think she’d rather enjoy it. By the way, it was good to see you at the gathering on Saturday.”

“Well Jen wanted to go, but she didn’t want to go by herself.”

“I see; she’s a beautiful woman Ed.”

“Remember what I told you once Paul, things aren’t always what they seem.

“Ed, we’ve been friends for a while now, I saw the way the two of you looked at each other, don’t try to deny it.”

“Did it show that much?”

“Yeah, it did.” Foster paused before continuing. “Ed you helped me pull my head out of my ass when I was a young brash know it all; your wisdom and guidance helped me through a tough time in my life. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for you. So now I’m going to return the favor. Embrace the moment, when love comes knocking at your door, don’t turn it away, especially when it calls you by name.”

“When did you ever become so smart?”

“When I started listening to my commanding officer, and my friend,” said Paul.

Ed considered Paul’s words and realized how lucky he was to have been blessed with the friends he had acquired over the years, Alec, rest his soul, Virginia, Paul, Matt, and now Jen, who held the promise to be so much more.

“Thanks Paul.” Ed paused, “well you had better get moving and give your wife the news. Call me when the two of you arrive.”

“I will, take care Ed.”

Foster shook hands with his boss and turned to leave as Jen walked in with two cups of coffee.

“Hey Jen, is that for me?” asked Paul teasingly.

“You wish, one of these is mine and the other is for The Man.”

“Oh I see where I rate, see ya’, Jen.”

“Bye, Paul.”

Jen set the cups down on Ed’s desk and reached down to close the door.

“Did you fill out the study request?” asked Ed quietly.

“I handed it in to Colonel Grey this morning. You?”

“It’s right here; I’m going to drop it off in a little while.”

“I’ve never had one of these done, how long does it take?”

“We’ll know by this afternoon, speaking of which, would you like to have dinner with me tonight?” he asked.

“I’d love to, assuming the tests are good.”

Ed took a sip of his coffee. “I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t. By the way Jen, you have to tell me where you get this stuff.”

“I’ll tell, no, I’ll show you later.”

“Is that a promise?”

“Yeah, that’s a promise,” said Jen. “I’ve got to get on duty; will you let me know when you get the results?”

“I will.”

Ed watched her as she walked into the control room, still surprised at the chain of events that occurred Saturday evening; events that showed the promise of a very passionate relationship.

Matt was sitting on the front porch swing picking his guitar when his wife came out with two cups of coffee. She sat down next to him as he finished playing the song; their song.

“That was beautiful Matt,” she said as she kissed him on the cheek. She could see that he was in a contemplative mood. “Penny for your thoughts?”

“I’m just wondering if I made the right decision accepting a commission with SHADO. Hell Ed brought me in as a captain, how did I rate that?”

“He brought me in as a full colonel. You’re thinking standard military Matt. In SHADO a different set of rules apply.”

“I know Gin, but Ed is talking of me being promoted to major in three months, and posting me as XO to the New York tracking center. Six months after that, I’m supposed to run the place; as a lieutenant colonel no less. I’m not ready for this.”

“By the time Colonel Johns is transferred, you’ll be ready. Trust me Matt, you can handle it. Besides, you looked awful damn sexy in that dress uniform,” she said with a grin.

“That’s the other thing that bothered me Gin, why did I get singled out for decoration? There were others on the base were just as deserving.”

“Matt, everyone up there except you had been through formal training. What you did was incredibly resourceful, and you did it without the benefit of SHADO training. So stop beating yourself up.”

Matt looked up at the stars through the haze. It had been warm and humid that day and there wouldn’t be many more until autumn took hold. He looked back at his beautiful wife with a mischievous grin on his face.

“Hey, are you in the mood for a midnight swim?”

“With or without,” she asked sharing his grin.

“Oh, definitely without.”

“That sounds so romantic, let’s go.”

Virginia grabbed the coffee cups and Matt picked up his guitar and they walked into the house locking the front door behind them.

“Matt do you want me to put more coffee on for later?”

“Absolutely darlin’; everyone at SHADO drinks coffee.

Glitch in the Machine:
My thoughts:

This story is the second one in the Hewett series. My first Matt/Ginny story “Matters of the Heart” was such a blast to write, I didn’t know it I’d be able to top it as far as pure writing pleasure goes. But this turned out to be just as much fun.

My original plan was not to include Ginny as much as I wanted Matt to interact with some of the other characters a little more. As with most of my stories I always know what the disaster is going to be but I seldom know how the plot will resolve itself. Yes I’m along for the ride as well. As it worked out I couldn’t leave Ginny out of all the fun as it just wouldn’t be realistic. (Besides, Matt missed her.)

I dove into Keith’s back story a bit as the series was confusing on his past and I saw a chance to clear up an inconsistency in the episode “Identified.” When Straker asked Ford, “How long have you been with us?” Ford answers two years. But we know from “Confetti Check A-OK” he was one of the first recruits, along with Nina, Joan, John Masters, and a few others. I have Keith clarify that he was assigned to HQ two years before “Identified.” It was fun portraying him as a family man as well.

The “techno-babble in this story was mostly based on real technology and the explanations given are technically accurate. As is almost always the case the technical stuff should forward the plot, not be the plot although the “glitch” certainly was part of the plot in this story. I think I did okay balancing the two aspects.

I have featured the character of Jen in quite a few of my stories. I introduced her in “Mission of Mercy” and it has been fun to see her develop into the woman she is shown as in this story. I don’t see her as brash, but she is not afraid to go after what she wants. I portray her as someone who is just as brilliant as Ginny but less reserved. (She’s a native New Yorker with a lead foot after all.) And she is a very perceptive individual. Ed is going to have his hands full with her.

This story ended up following the standard three act structure, with three separate disasters; the glitch in the communications system, the undetected attack on Moonbase, and the infantry style assault. The various subplots all support the main body of the story.

Louise made an observation that the relationship between Matt and Ginny is much deeper that the one between Ed and her, in the “Soul Mates” Saga. I’m forced to agree with her and I think the reason for that is the personality dynamics between the characters. While Ed and Matt share some basic core beliefs, Ed is much more reserved than Matt. The Ed/Ginny dynamic in “Soul Mates” is more of a, one on one relationship, with Ginny being the more social of the two. (I portray Ginny to be much warmer than she was shown in the series.) In the Hewett series Matt is clearly more outgoing and Ginny really gets to let her hair down when she is with him. There is enough similarity to form a bond yet differences that keep the relationship interesting.

The same dynamics will come into play with Ed and Jen. Straker has been isolated for years and has formed a shell that very few people get to enter. In this storyline Alec has succumbed to cancer and Virginia has become Ed’s best friend. As we learned in “Matters” the relationship goes deeper than that; not lover’s but certainly more than friends. When Virginia’s husband arrives at HQ, Jen sees how it has affected the commander, and offers him comfort. A mutual attraction is brewing here as is revealed later in the story. At the poolside Jen crosses over to Ed’s comfort zone, knowing he would be uncomfortable with a public display of affection, even though she would have loved for him to scoop her up and jump in the pool as Matt did with Ginny. I purposely left the details of their later rendezvous to the imagination but I can tell you it was more than holding hands with their feet in the water. (How good is your imagination?)

“I wrote a lot of dialogue in this story, both internal and external. Dialogue is one of my favorite parts to write as it can really get the reader to identify with the characters. Internal dialogue can be extremely powerful as it gives the reader an untarnished view of the characters soul. In one scene Matt has finished a conversation with his wife and is sitting back in the Commander’s chair contemplating the awesome responsibility that Ed carries on his shoulders. It was a very deep look into the Commander personality from Matt’s point of view.

For the climax of the story I wanted to try something a little different. With Moonbase’s defenses down the aliens could have easily destroyed the base. An infantry style assault on the base was an idea that had been floating around in my head for a while and it was fun to be able to do it in this story. It added a new dimension of drama to the attack.

I was surprised how much Matt developed as a strong character in this story as I put a lot of myself and my core beliefs into him. At one point Matt is trying to convince Ed that he needs to go to Moonbase. I almost thought it was written too strong when Denise commented that Matt had some “serious stones” a point she later clarified stating that she was in awe of him for a moment. I especially enjoyed the war of thought between Ed and Matt at that point. And truth be told, Matt’s reason for wanting to go to Moonbase was twofold. Of course he wanted to help Jen get the tracking system back up, but he was also concerned for his wife.

I wanted Matt to be able to show some of his resourcefulness by assisting with some of the repairs on the base. By having him work on systems he would be familiar with, I kept the story in the realm of realism. He was able to utilize his civilian skill set and still make a difference in the outcome. He wouldn’t know enough to repair the particle beam weapon or the utronic systems but antenna and weapons positioning systems are old and proven technology, as are the S-band microwave communications systems, used during the Apollo missions.

At the end of the story we see Ed and Jen taking the first steps to a deeper relationship. The “study” of course refers to the computer relationship study required to be performed on SHADO personnel wishing to pursue a romantic involvement with someone inside the organization.

The last scene shows Matt in a contemplative mood considering his recent acceptance of a commission in SHADO. As a modest person he questions his suitability for the role and still feels unworthy of the “honor” that has been bestowed on him. Of course Ginny will have none of it and she lovingly shows him his worth and ability. That’s right Ginny; you give him the what for.

I took a lesson from Denise’s recent essay on romance for the midnight swim using the, with or without, exchange to set the scene. The rest is left to the imagination. Mine’s pretty good; how’s yours?

I was able to work seven of the phrases and slogans (plus one unofficial one) into the story making all of them flow naturally with the scene. The voiceprint identification box was a gimme for the tough one which was my old quote from the Sanskrit. Picture Alec in “Identified.” He opens the cigar box and speaks, “But soft, what light by yonder window breaks, it is the east, and Juliet is the sun.” That was a classic line! The other tough one was the “Knee deep in ironing” but that one fit right in with Matt telling Ginny that she’s pregnant. As Guina had pointed out it was a nice switch for the husband to tell the wife as it’s usually the other way around. The unofficial one was “The Man” as Denise likes to call Ed.

I had as much fun writing this one as I did with “Matters of the Heart”. I hope everyone enjoyed it.
« Last Edit: Sep 22nd, 2010 at 12:07am by Matt »  

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