April, and I’m Not the Fool

Here is a 600-word excerpt from my current work in progress novella, Independent Flight.

This is fairly early in the drafting process, so any and all text is likely to change, possibly dramatically, in the next couple of months.

 

Captain Baldwin stood and his tan jacket – a near-priceless collectible from the late twentieth century, CE – made more sense as he strode forward, extending his hand. He looked a great deal, in fact, like an actor – big, bluff and blonde, and she smiled in spite of herself. He appealed to her sense of duty just in the way that he stood, a brick of a man who was even taller than her own hundred-eighty centimeters.

“I’m Captain John Baldwin; Commander, Air Group. I think I like you, kid.” Baldwin’s thump on her back was close to being enough to knock her over, but she weathered it and laughed. “So, ready to meet your flight crew on Dog Two-Oh-Seven?”

She nodded fiercely. “Yessir!” was her response.

Baldwin led the way, chatting amiably in Veronica’s direction. Very thought he seemed almost apologetic, but that could have just been the way he was. Certainly it would be a welcome change from the testosterone-ridden world of fighter jocks.

A tall black woman with her hair in carefully-tended locks stepped down the ramp of the huge, sleek fighter marked with the number 207. Barely disguising her amusement, she walked up to the two approaching with a measured stride and came to a halt just in front of Veronica and Baldwin, and snapped off a sharp salute that Baldwin returned. “Captain Baldwin, Two-Oh-Seven is ready for her command pilot.”

“Very well, Sublieutenant. I can see from the look in your eye that this introduction may be a bit superfluous, but Lieutenant Veronica Gray, this is your XO and EWO, Sublieutenant Alyssa Yeboah.” Veronica could hardly mistake her classmate for anyone else.

Both women broke out in matching grins and clasped each other’s hand. “It’s good to see you again, woman!” said Veronica, “Still keeping people on their toes, I see.”

“Skipper, I feel twice as good now that you’re here. We’ve been missing a plane captain and I know I’m good at my job but pushing this thing is not my job!”

Baldwin grinned. “Scene right out of Starfighter Command. I’ll leave you to introduce her to the rest of your crew, Sub. I need to get back to Double Nuts.”

“Yessir.”

Baldwin turned on his heel before walking back toward his own bird, humming a theme tune under his breath. When he was safely out of earshot, Veronica wondered, “Does Baldwin always talk in century-old pop culture?”

“You know, there are some guys who are just fossilized in old movies and things. He’s one of them. Baldwin would say Starfighter Command’s as much a part of fighter culture as the Yeager drawl, but I think he’s full of shit.” Yeboah sighed, smoothed a hand over her hair, and nodded. “Speaking of fighter culture, you ought to know our squadron’s official name is the Flying Wolfcats, but nobody but a complete newbie calls us anything but the Pukin’ Dogs.”

Veronica nodded. “Pukin’ Dogs it is.” She glanced at the blue and white patch on Yeboah’s arm. “It really does look like a sick dog, doesn’t it?”

“That it does, Skip, that it does. So, since you’re here now, I should introduce you to our flight crew.” She cupped her hands to her mouth. “Bowman! Alyse! Stark! Out here, on the double!”

Two women and a man scrambled out of the corvette’s after door. The man was green-skinned and slender, indicating that he was from one of the more exotically genetically-engineered strains of humankind. He had big eyes and slightly languid movements. “Astronaut First Class Louis Bowman’s our fighter’s token guy. He’s from Jardin, close to the border with the Sagittarius Rift.” 

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One Response to April, and I’m Not the Fool

  1. Penny Horwitz says:

    I like what you’ve done here. It flows well, and it has an authentic feel to it. Looking forward to the rest.

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