Independent Flight (Aquarius Ascendant)

Independent Flight (Aquarius Ascendant) by K.L. Tremaine Read Free Book Online

Book: Independent Flight (Aquarius Ascendant) by K.L. Tremaine Read Free Book Online
Authors: K.L. Tremaine
today’s operation was more or less entirely her own plan. She and Lieutenant Commander Saitova had spent an entire day getting inside each other’s head and formulating the deployment drops. Veronica had found it an eye-opening learning experience as her native enthusiasm collided with a superior officer’s knowledge and skills. Especially when the Lieutenant Commander pointed out that her original deployment plan would have left all of the corvettes spaced far too widely apart to even have a hope of intercepting anything that didn’t come within a hundred thousand kilometers of them.
    Veronica switched mental “hats” and replayed their orders in her mind. This was their first formal deployment as semi-independent craft, but it was going to be a hard one. They would spend seven days patrolling the Salmani 314 star system–an obscure, barely-visited star system with only two planets, neither of them even remotely life-bearing. Insurance statistics for the sector showed a sharp rise in pirate activity, and this was the perfect spot for a hidden base of operations. The odds were against actually finding it, but a patrol in strength stood a good chance of netting some of the more active raiders and forcing the rest to lie low for at least a few weeks. So Avenger was dropping her full corvette wing in a fast “orbit” around the system primary. Eighty corvettes amounted to one every 4.5 degrees along the ecliptic, but very few spaceships ever used approaches that were more than a few degrees above or below the ecliptic anyway. The ship would then patrol still others for a week until it was time to recover the corvettes.
    The carrier started dropping the Pukin ’ Dogs in a long arc. Veronica watched on her main screen as the time for her launch counted down, wrapping her fingers around the stick and throttle. Ahead and behind her, Louis Bowman and Alyssa Yeboah were strapped into the Gunnery and EW/copilot seats; underneath them in the mid-deck, Kellie Alyse and Natasha Leblanc were sitting at the Engineering and Sensor stations. Being split across two decks wasn’t the most efficient setup for giving out orders, but a corvette simply didn’t have room for everyone in one place and her crew was expected to display high levels of personal initiative. In a way, every member of a corvette crew was their own department head.
    Veronica smiled as the countdown hit zero. A regular cat shot was nowhere near as punishing as the emergency-power one they ’d ridden on their previous launch, and she barely felt a whisker of acceleration as the corvette’s well-tuned compensators damped out the momentum. The fighter hit space and turned to its first outbound vector, drive flaring brightly as it cleared the carrier’s inner zone. Unlike a bigger warship, a corvette didn’t have the power budget for compensators powerful enough to fully match its engines at military thrust, so maximum acceleration pinned crew members to the backs of their chairs at five gees. Her arms that felt like they weighed close to a hundred pounds as she carefully pulled the her craft through the three high-energy course changes required to fully separate from the carrier, and she found herself sighing with relief when she was finally able to throttle back to the relative crawl of “only” about four hundred gees. Within twenty seconds of launch, Avenger was boosting away at over 500 g , leaving eight fighters and two dozen drones to blanket a star system.
    Veronica decided that the reality of a detached flight patrol already felt very different from the romantic reputation. She was glad to have her crew members with her. “Being out here on my own, I’d go stir-crazy within a day.”
    “ I know, Ma’am,” replied Natasha over the fighter’s intercom, “So would I.” They had all done training on a Firefox, the eighth and ultimate model of the venerable FA8C. A three-person heavy fighter capable of being flown and fully controlled in most flight

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