Travis was checking the gauges for the Dee-Hee Engines on the Galileo and then said, “Dr. Andrews, I know you are quite proficient at a variety of craft but I’ll bet you’ve never flown something this large, a 240’ long, a 3,000 ton freighter capable of carrying 20,000 deadweight tonnage in cargo! Care to try your hand? I’d like as many as possible cross-trained in case anything happens to the rest of us.”
“Well Capt, I have flown ‘Trash Haulers’ but I have to admit this is quite a bit larger than the Milspec. L-30’s I qualified on. Still it never hurts you to have as many people current in type as possible. Let’s start with the -10 manual basics, what’s the power up sequence?”
Travis said, “On ships like this, the Lancer, and the Mayflower, the engines are normally never really ‘off’ of course, just in idle so to speak or else it takes a full day to warm them up enough for the plasma reactors to function. Currently, naturally, the Lancer is shut down and this was, during the long voyage here but now we leave it in neutral. Please, take the co-pilot seat – you have all the duplicate controls at your fingertips. Just remember that it’ll feel quite sluggish compared to the sleek fighters and cruisers you’re used to.”
“I have no doubt, bet she handles like a really good truck though, load her up and save for the mass she pretty well flies the same. Ok, two questions; do you guys have a standard acceleration warning and do you have a pre-plotted lowest fuel approach template?”
Travis just grinned and typed on his control console and my display’s popped up with a course and a schedule of pilot alerts.
I ran through the pre-lift sequence and looked for the 1MC switch. Ops Ash, civilian craft not mil. Scanned again looking for the GA, found it, and toggled, “Attention all hands, prepare for acceleration in 60 seconds repeat acceleration in 60 seconds. Yall got an outta practice Fighter Jock up here, might not be as smooth as normal!” I went into my version of the zone, what Andy called speed and rolled the power in. Travis was right, this baby was a little sluggish, but she was honest. I fought her up through atmosphere and into the close orbit phase, slapped her on Auto and relaxed out of the zone. “Twenty minuets to next maneuver, Yall can relax a bit,” I said over the GA.
I turned in the seat and said to Travis, “When we get up there I need to get that firewall installed, then brief whoever your physics Guru is and get some sleep. I would love to set in the lounge and swap war stories with the ‘Galloping Ghost of the Belt’, yeah Andy briefed us last night. I never did know your name; Andy is going to need help down there. He only has three Badged Operators on the planet and Mariana is going to be too busy to be a field trainer. I actually don’t want to be here now but this is too important. If your guy can put my math in hardware, that shield is gonna surprise somebody.”
Travis said, “Monroe is our communications maven so you’ll be meeting with him first, to install the firewall. Dr. Hibbes, ‘The Mad Scientist’ as we refer to him, is our physics guy and is also in charge of programming the CNC to produce parts and also the CAD circuit builders for the building of electronics for the shuttles we’re retrofitting. He’ll also incorporate your shielding plans into the new Ex-Fighters he’s designing. You’ll like those if they actually come to fruition.”
Ash looked a little worn, “I am not worried about the firewall tracer, Andy and myself are the best there are at that. We are putting everything critical on the ground behind the security wall we developed for the SOCOM OPLAN database. It’s never come close to being cracked. If Monroe is as good as you say, it will take me about an hour to show him the Op System for the tracer so he can monitor your end. I hope your Dr. Hibbes really is the ‘Mad Scientist’. I only ran this math up on hardware with a Lab test rig; couldn’t go any farther without my UNWG boss catching on. But, with a 220V 10 Amp power supply, I stopped an issue .30 Cal Penetration round cold!”
Travis looked impressed. Then, he flicked the radio switch and called on Mayflower Control to open the cargo bay doors. Turning to Ash, he said, “Docking maneuver coming up. You’re doing well so just continue and bring us in easy.”
Once on board, Steven joined them as they rode the railroad cart to the mining cavern where, four years before, a rather dramatic shootout had occurred. From there it was a short walk to ship’s Control Room.
Captain Monroe was there and his and Ash’s meeting was rather more cordial than previously – four years prior – in the Lounge, before the big sleep. Travis left the three of them.
Ash said, “I never did thank you, Captain Monroe, for saving my neck from the wrath of Rocco…”
Monroe smiled and said, “All part of the service here, Dr. Andrews. By the way, there’s fresh coffee in the pot over there. Now, shall we get to work?”