SURPRISE SNEAK PREVIEW!

Hi guys!

I thought you might want a quick look at something I’m working on for Kindle Vella.

It’s another story set in the Cassidy Universe, but it’s going to be focused on a new starship and a different crew. Some of the officers will be familiar, but the crew and the rest of the officers? New to you (and me!)!

One note before you get into the story on Stardates. They are derived by taking the century digit, the two digits for the year, the two digits for the month (with the leading zero as needed), a decimal, and then the two digits for the day (again with a leading zero). So today is July 19, 2021; Kendra’s Stardate would be 02107.19. Got it? Good; there’s going to be a quiz later!

Without further ado, a sneak peek into another Cassidy story!

Vulcan’s Forge

Stardate 12406.19

“Oberon wept. What a monster!”

“Davie, you have no poetry in your soul. She’s gorgeous.”

“You’ve always been a romantic, Kendra.”

“True.” She idly patted her abdomen, still barely bulging.

“How are the girls dealing with being big sisters?”

“Mikki’s pretty blasé about it; been there, done that. Lisa’s excited, though. It’s fresh and new and exciting to her.”

“And Rob?”

“He isn’t even one yet! I know our kids are scary smart, but he’s way too little to have a clue.”

“I still can’t believe Cass managed to carry a baby while commanding the Constitution.”

Kendra laughed. “She doesn’t get morning sickness; I do. Besides, she’s stubborn, she is.”

“No!”

“I know, shocking, ain’t it?” The treecat at her feet chittered. “No, I’m not ignoring you, Leda.”

Kendra knelt so the ‘cat could leap to her shoulder. The still-growing kit would eventually be able to reach from the ground but as yet wasn’t quite strong enough, and Kendra didn’t feel like getting claws in the unreinforced parts of her uniform. Davie observed it all with wry amusement.

“You and your family of ‘cats,” she said, watching the maneuvering.

Kendra shrugged, careful not to dislodge Leda.

“Just like cats. They choose you, not the other way around. Anyways, we didn’t trek out to Mars orbit just to talk babies.”

“I suppose not. Hecate!”

The AI’s avatar appeared. Over the past three years her appearance had continually, though subtly, altered. Gone were the pigtails and t-shirts and neon-colored sneakers. Gone, too, was the overeager near-teen persona she had adopted. The crises at the end of the Artemis War had done for that. She had also gained confidence: she had been instrumental in rebuilding the Fleet and overseeing the new construction, including the Forge. She had, essentially, Grown Up.

She kept the pink hair, though.

“Admirals,” she said, formally polite. “Leda.”

The telepathic ‘cat bleeked at the AI before resuming her grooming. The treecats’ ability to sense other minds had been one of the clinching arguments Kendra used to include AI’s as fully co-equal partners in the Terran Federation.

“She’s ready?” asked Kendra now.

“Yes, Admiral. A little behind schedule, perhaps, but I believe you’ll find the additional capabilities useful and worth the wait.”

“Oh, no. Not me!” Kendra’s headshake was vigorous and nearly dislodged Leda. “I’m perfectly happy aboard the Connie, thank you very much!”

Davie said, “And I won’t tell Cass you misnamed her ship. Again.”

Kendra winced.

“Let’s sit down,” she said, diverting attention away from her gaffe and leading the others to a seating area overlooking the construction docks.

“Kendra, I’ve been careful not to stick my nose into the construction; this is your baby, being part of the Exploration arm of Starfleet. So what were the delays?” asked Davie.

“I’ll let Hecate explain.”

The AI picked up the cue.

“The original plan called for two flight pods, one on either side.”

“Hold on. Flight pod?”

“It may be easier with a hologram,” Hecate said. An image of a ship appeared, floating before them. It was elongated, with a triangular bow which was vaguely alligator-shaped, a tapered ‘waist’ from which extended what looked like two pontoons, and a wider, squared-off aft.

“This is the original design, as proposed by Admiral Cassidy.”

“Wait. Hecate, drop the formality, please,” Kendra said. “Otherwise it’s going to be ‘Admiral this’ and ‘Admiral that’ all afternoon.”

“Certainly, Kendra. After evaluation revealed previously unexpected flaws, the design was revised.”

“Hey!” protested Kendra. “Improvements, not fixing flaws!”

The hologram shifted, with the ‘pontoons’ dropping further down from the central section, and without changing size it seemed to enlarge.

“This was to accommodate the inclusion of a ship fabricator, attached to the ventral side of the central hull, between the flight pods. The overall dimensions of the craft was also increased to reflect the evolving mission of the class.”

Another shift in the hologram.

“An extension was planned for the dorsal side of the central hull, consisting of the bridge and primary science offices.”

And another shift, both to the bow and to the flight pods.

“The original pods were shifted outward, and a second pair of pods were installed on the interior and dorsal sides.”

Kendra jumped in. “And that’s the biggest difference between the Explorers and the other starships; all the small craft are serviced in these pods, rather than a shuttlebay. Think of them as miniature versions of the Njord’s upper bay.”

“Makes sense,” Davie admitted. “But why four of them?”

“Come on, Davie,” cajoled Kendra. “Exploration, remember? And you missed the reason for the extra pods. Hecate, continue.”

“Thank you. The Don Quixote was to carry 10 Wolves, 40 Direwolves, and 10 Coyotes. The additional pods enables each Explorer to more than double that complement, to a full squadron of 24 Wolves, two full squadrons of 48 Direwolves, and four 6-ship squadrons of Coyotes.”

Davie whistled. “Titania’s Teeth! I had no idea; that’s half of what Njord carries!”

“It gets better,” Kendra said eagerly. “The Wolves are the Mark II’s, with the improved compensators.”

“How did you get them? I’ve been arguing for them for months!”

“Priorities. These days, the Exploration branch takes precedence.”

“Damn.”

“You’re going to hate this, then.”

Davie leaned back. “I’m ready.”

“Eight Mark III Direwolves.”

“Oh, now that’s not fair!”

Hecate interrupted. She had followed the verbal sparring with interest, but thought it time to intervene. “Davie, the Mark III’s are in full production and all of your Mark I’s will be replaced by the end of the quarter.”

“Oh,” Whitmore said, mollified. “Why didn’t I know this?”

“Colonel McKnight has been kept informed by Majors Fowler and Garcia-Kay,” answered the AI. “Presumably the Colonel has her own reasons why you weren’t informed.”

“Hmmph. Probably in one of her memos. Kendra, are you upgrading to a Mark III?”

The blonde Admiral shook her head.

“No. Brie and I are perfectly happy in the Mark II. Besides, I finally have the pilot’s seat exactly the way I want it.”

“Ah, yes, my sybaritic friend.”

“Hey, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing!”

Davie waved it away; as a long-serving former member of the Artemis navy, then Minister of War, she was almost genetically programmed to be ascetic. “Anything else? What was the tweak to the bow?”

“That was the final change, the addition of a 20 petawatt spinal laser, mounted ventrally under the bow and capable of aiming within 30° of the longitudinal axis.”

“No other offense?” asked an incredulous Whitmore.

Leda, distracted from her grooming by the hologram, reached as far forward as she could to bat at it only to be pulled back by Kendra. Hecate waited until the ‘cat was settled again, then resumed.

“No, Davie. As Kendra has said, this is an exploration vessel, not a warship. We also feel the Direwolves will provide sufficient stand-off offense for most situations, alleviating the need for integral weaponry.”

Kendra interrupted again. “Which would take away from the primary mission! Every cubic meter which isn’t devoted to ship’s systems, crew quarters, and supply storage is committed to science. Believe me, I’ve looked over the plans and Hecate’s done an amazing job miniaturizing and optimizing and all those other ‘-izing’ words. The Quixote couldn’t be a meter smaller than she is and still achieve her mission. Period.”

“Hecate, you’ve done a wonderful job,” Davie said, earnestly. “How are you feeling?”

“I think ‘relieved’ is accurate. It’s been challenging.”

Kendra nodded agreement. “I agree with both of you. But now that Hecate’s finished putting her together comes the tough part.”

“Oh?”

“Crewing her.”

Published by gaffen620

Author of The Cassidy Chronicles. Lives in Colorado with many dogs, cats, and one very patient wife.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: