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Old January 17th, 2016, 08:12 PM
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"Roger that, Control," said Adam. "Crew, lead, we have a go. Engineering, full light-off to standby then perform walkaround."

"Acknowledged," called Laseiag. Adam and Natasha watched the internal bus systems indicate on-line in the bridge, then the maneuver drive spin up on standby. "Engineering, Bridge, looks clean up here."

"Commencing walk-around," Laseiag announced on the comm link. "Helga follow me out the garage hatch." "Yes."

Adam listened to them as they checked hatches and cables, and detached the drip lines. Laseiag was showing Helga how to safely detach the power umbilicals from the ship. "First the deck box before the ship connect, under this ...."

Sudden panic and some kind of Lunion swearing up and down. Helga was really sounding off, Laseiag said something very un-vilani, in the background was some kind of gutteral growling.

Adam popped up out of his seat and behind Natasha, trying to look aft out the starboard window. "Status check crew!" Natasha sounded off quietly by rote, "Natasha up." Helga and Laseiag were considerably less rote. "Ach! Ahhh, <swear>, a bear. Helga up, bear in power shed!"

"A bear?"

"Yes, bear. Ah, not yet airborne and already I need laundry machine."

"Chief Laseiag up." Ah. Still an upper-class pronunciation of the name. Good man.

"Uh, can you move it?" asked Adam.

"No, is big bear!" squeeked Helga.

"It is constructing a nest and will not want to leave," Laseiag said. "We will need a base animal control team."

Adam rubbed his eyes. "We need to go. Can we just drop the ship-side?"

"No, that is unsafe and a violation of procedure."

At that moment a platoon of marines, on their morning run in full combat armor, came into Adam's view. "Helga, eyes off the starboard bow, go get those boys and see if they'll drive it away for us."

"Ah ... yes." He could hear her trotting off, and in a moment she came into view on a course to intercept the emperor's finest.

"Join the marines, go to interesting places, play with alien wildlife." Adam linked to base control and requested an animal control team, then checked back out the window. Natasha was straining with him to see starboard aft.

It took a minute or two but Helga managed to persuade them. The platoon double-timed up alongside the ship, then broke ranks to view the situation. Even in their armor some of the marines' body language conveyed amusement, while others seemed annoyed. "Yours is not to question why, gentlemen," mused Adam to himself. In the full tradition of the service the platoon sergeant sized up the situation and came up with a plan in a few seconds. He sent two squads to the enclosed sides of the shed to yell through the windows with their external power-enhanced vox and beat on the shed's exterior to drive the bear out the front door, then used the remaining squad to yell and wave their arms at it to drive it towards a less-inhabited portion of the base. The tactically sound plan using fire - or rather loud voices - and maneuver worked reasonably well and after a moment the bear bolted, then ran towards a forested area near the base boundary. Adam finally saw it out the window - yep, big Karin "bear", long fluffy tail waving high in the air. Not very aggressive but dangerous if they wanted to be.

"OK, Helga please blow them a kiss, Chief Laseiag let's get us unplugged and buttoned up." As Adam returned to his seat he seemed to overhear Helga kissing someone's faceplate. Natasha looked like she was having misgivings about the comm link transmitting everyone's breathing and cursing and movement noises.

In a moment the base-power light blinked out and the ship was on isolated internals. No surges or drops, it all looked good. He heard Helga and Laseiag bolting down the garage door hatch and then shutting the attic hatches, then Helga retired to her cabin while Laseiag reported at engineering. "All nominal."

Adam glanced out the windows to verify that the marines were clear and that there was reasonable empty space around the Flower. "Ladies and gentlement we will now commence lift. Your pilot for today is Natasha Sversk, she has the conn." She looked at Adam wide-eyed. He folded his hands across his chest and leaned back in his seat. "Take her up, pilot."

"Regulations state the senior pilot should take out a new ship." Nervous, but a perfectly legitimate regulation.

"True, but I want to see how you perform. I need to know if something happens to me that you can take over."

"If I make a mistake ..."

"If you make a mistake it goes on my lead record but it goes on your flight record." Adam leaned forward and switched off his panel indications. His panel went dark. What was the administration phrase again? He looked at her. "This is a professional observation."

Her eyes narrowed with annoyance again, but she turned her eyes to the task at hand. He could tell she was mentally listing through all the lift procedures. "Initial 022-027-001," she said, "lifting." He saw her motioning the maneuver drive controls. "Announce to Control," he reminded her. No annoyance on her face at the correction, clearly able to focus on the task at hand under stress.

"Control, ISS Dainty Flower, lifting."

"Control acknowledges, and taking cover!" Pig responded. She did look annoyed at that. She lifted the boat.

And it promptly rolled and slewed to port. A lot. In view of Natasha Adam maintained a clear and non-challant face, but his right hand was on the senior pilot override and his feet were on the pedals. Oh God did I make a mistake ....

She didn't panic, she corrected to starboard. But the M1 drive response was sluggish, and she wound up overcorrecting. The ship not only rotated and slewed to starboard it began a clockwise spin as it drifted up, the entire world outside the window rotating in six degrees of freedom. Her eyes were getting quite wide.

As the ship spun the bridge passed directly in front of the administration overlook bay at a 45 degree tilt. He could see Senior Administrator Harinkake staring with an administrator's typical look of resigned forlorn hope. He smiled and waved to her as he passed by, then called out very clearly to Natasha, "Correct down the flight line to gain space."

Laseiag called out, "Sixty-five percent overload."

She didn't correct immediately. Her eyes played out over her insturments, he could tell she was making a calculation in her head. As the boat bow aligned with the flight line she executed several corrections simultaneously and achieved a stable oriented drift down the line. Her mouth was open and her eyes were darting everywhere and her hands were shaking.

"OK, now hover."

"What!"

"Hover, you need the practice."

Pulling back the drift the ship nose rose up a full 45 degrees. She corrected it in place and somehow achieved a stable hover. "Good, now slip one ship width to ..." he looked out the window for a safe direction, "port."

Laseiag called out, "Seventy-five percent overload."

She eased the boat to port, pitching slightly again but settling down to the ordered parameter. "Good, now slip starboard two widths." She slipped the ship to starboard, much more gracefully this time, and hovered at the parameter.

Laseiag called out, "Eighty-five."

"OK, take us up," Adam told Natasha.

She double checked her vector first, good girl, then accelerated while pushing the nose up. She boat was sluggish as a water-filled foam pig but it rose determinedly. Laseiag called out immediately, "Ninety." She checked her display and answered back clearly, "Yes, I see, cease reports." Adam switched his panel back on to watch the loading himself. Ninety-two, four, six ... Natasha realigned to 1G ordinary, and the overload stablized at ninety-seven then began slowly drifting back down as the ship coasted up on atmo lift and intertia.

Natasha took a deep breath and relaxed a bit, but kept her concentration on her panel. Adam smiled to himself. "Outstanding, pilot." He emphasized the last word just slightly.

"Uh, Dainty Flower, Control, just checking, can we come out from under our consoles now?"

When Adam didn't answer, Natasha looked at him. "You're the pilot," he said. She replied to control with a steady voice, "Yes, Pig, you will live to be butchered another day."

Adam laughed out loud. What a filly.
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