their allies are studying as well. Therefore, you should know your own limits and learn how to avoid being exposed.”
She glanced at the clock on the wall. It was almost noon. Thank God.
“All right, that’s enough for today. Any questions?”
They shook their heads.
As the members of the class filed out of the room, speaking among themselves, she couldn’t help but shake her head. She recalled her first days in training on Eridani’s cold base. None of them had volunteered to be there, and none of them knew what the future had in store for them. And here she was now, training the next generation.
Smiling to herself, she wondered what her first husband would have thought of her becoming a Spec Warfare officer. He probably wouldn’t have believed it. She probably would not have either.
She clenched her jaw. She had promised herself that during this stint she would not think of husbands—past or present because it only brought up pain. As much as she loved and missed Medoro, she needed to remember he was far away, and she had a job to here. It was the only thing keeping her from slipping into grief-ridden despair.
The air inside of Engine Room One on the Blanchard was musty and filled with the stench of lubricant. The loud clanking of a broken pump sounded through the room as various personnel did their best to shut it down, along with the engine it served, before it was too late.
“Sir,” one of the engineers called out, while approaching Keegan.
Her soot-stained face and jacket gave evidence to the battle she was having with the machine.
“It’s Inertial Dampener Number One. It’s gone. Apparently, the lubricator pump failed, and it locked up on us and blew,” she explained over the din.
Keegan’s swayed ever so slightly to the side as the damaged system began to affect the ship.
“Lieutenant, we’re traveling at 2C through free space.” He paused and braced himself against the side of a hatch. “How could something like this happen?”
The engineer blinked at him. “Sir. I’ll find out.”
“Well, how are we going to stop?” he asked, raising his voice in order to be heard.
“I don’t follow, sir,” she responded in an even tone.
“Let me rephrase. Lieutenant, at the speed we’re going, when we finally put on the brakes, we’ll be experiencing Newton’s Third Law in living color. So what’s going to keep us from being spots on the forward walls?”
In order to work in this area, everyone had to know physics better than Einstein. So if she had any bright ideas, he was ready to hear them.
“Sir, we lost only one dampener. We should be fine with the other three. Therefore, we have enough stability to make it to port where I can get the parts I need to make the repairs.”
“All right,” he said checking his watch. “We’ll be at Eckhardt in ten minutes. Fix what you can, and I’ll get you to port.”
“Steer us a clear path until we get them all back online. We can’t afford a bumpy ride.”
“I’ll do my job. You just watch those other three. And tell everybody to hold on.”
Keegan watched the engineer head back to her station. He rubbed the bridge of his nose and sighed. A dampener blowing was one thing, but getting the new crew to ensure a smooth ride was another.
Advance Cryo Training Facility at Cole Naval Air Station - Montana
“Great day, isn’t it, Chief Petty Officer?” Caitlin said to her assistant trainer, who replied with a smile.
“Yes, ma’am.” He nodded and moved to stand next to her.
She felt alive and in control and she loved it.
Inside a protective bunker just over a mile away from the action, Caitlin peered through the reinforced glass. Because they were using live ammunition, she and the assistant chose to remain inside. Raising her binocs to her eyes, she peered at a storm cloud moving over the horizon.
Holly & Larbalestier Black