TTC: The Cygnus War, Part 49

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The Tessa Chronicles: The Cygnus War #49 (Love and Bravado) By Earl S. Wynn

“You should totally talk to the ranking officer on the ship,” Phoebe grinned. “I bet with a record like yours, they’d let you re-enlist, maybe even like, give you a Blasterchild to fly!”

Mac grimaced quietly, the lines that creased his ancient face bending into something short of a scowl. Phoebe grinned wider, index pointing past the edge of her glass at him, almost oblivious to the look darkening across his features. “Y’know, we’re short a rig. I’m sure the LC would agree that we could really use a pilot with your skill.”

Mac laughed and made to speak, hand already lifting off the table in a gesture, but another voice cut him off before he could edge a word in.

“Don’t let the fact that you’re trying to recruit officers for my squadron while I’m not around keep you from signing him up and formalizing his slot on the roster.” Tessa grinned, stepping up to sit beside the young lieutenant, then scooting across the seat to make room for Izzy. “Not that I wouldn’t love to have him, but from what I hear, Captain Mac should be leading a squadron, not filling a wingman slot in one.” She glanced at Mac and he nodded, winked in response. Phoebe glanced soberly in Tessa’s direction, cleared her throat.

“How are you holding up LC?”

“I’ve been better.” Tessa managed. “I’m still a little burnt from the gravcouch malfunction, but it’s nothing that I won’t get over eventually.”

“Mmm.” Came Phoebe’s noncommital reply. Nodding, she hid her face in her drink, lost herself in a long, slow, deliberate sip.

“How about you?” Izzy asked, cracking a grin as she turned to Mac. He grinned back, gestured vaguely.

“Just feeling lucky to be alive.” His aged smile flickered, almost faltered. “Glad my girl held together as well as she did through it all.”

“I bet.” Tessa spoke up again, keyed her own drink order into the table. “That was some hellacious flying back there by the way.” She looked up, gave him a smile, gestured vaguely. “Y’know, Phoebe’s right, we are short one wingman, and I’m sure there’s an old Seindrive around here somewhere we can talk the Hok’s C/O out of, if you’re interested in going up with us.” Izzy glanced at her curiously, watched as she spoke, every word flawless, free of the barbs and hesitations she half expected from a woman who, like a modern day Berurya facing down an ace of the Luftwaffe itself, had the ovaries to praise a man who hated her entire race–  but it was the final words that got Izzy, that blindsided her and left her in a tailspin. “I’d be honored to fly beside you.”

“I appreciate the offer, Ma’am, but there’s no way I’ll ever fly a piece of junk scrounged from some back hangar or cargo bay on this ship. Even if you could get me a Blasterchild from right off the assembly line, I wouldn’t fly it.” He took a swig of his own drink, ripped off a sloppy gesture. “I wouldn’t even piss on a Seindrive product to save it if it was on fire.

“Damn.” Came Izzy’s flat response. Phoebe bristled, opened her mouth to say something, but hesitated as drinks hit the table, the waiter shifting, sauntering away.

“Cheap Sirius system garbage.” Mac added. “Nothing like the beauty I flew back in ‘45.”

From the far end of the table, Davidson nodded, gave the grizzled vet the corner of a half grin. “Those Slashdrivers sure are gorgeous too, aren’t they?”

“Nothing prettier but a naked lady.” Mac grinned, then turned a wink at Phoebe. She grimaced reflexively.

“Can’t disagree with that,” Tessa broke in, taking a swig of her drink in the pause, “but I think I’ll stick with my Seindrive.”

“I’ve seen the way you fly– you’re good, you’d have to be in order to keep a piece of shit like one of them Blasterchilds from falling out of the air like a lead brick.” He laughed. “Not like the K-8. Even today, it’s the best damn example of a rig that works so well it actually makes a good pilot better.” He leaned forward, gestured. “Imagine how many of those Coralate shitsuckers you could french-fry with a rig like mine.”

“A slashdriver wouldn’t last ten minutes in the thick of it out there.” Izzy shook her head. “As well as Cygnan rigs can maneuver, you wouldn’t have a prayer– I guarantee you couldn’t shake one of those bastards in a K-8 once he got on your ass.”

“I could do it.” Mac nodded matter-of-factly. “Trick is not to let them get onto your ass.”

“Good luck.” Izzy shook her head, scooped up her drink and took a sip.

“Luck has nothing to do with it. It’s all skill, gorgeous.” He grinned again, gestured. “Just like with a woman, you gotta know what you’re doing.”

Izzy laughed, met his advance head on. “You’ve got a better chance of taking down the entire Coralate fleet in a first-generation rig than you have of getting me in the sack, old man.” She arched an eyebrow in the verbal equivalent of a slap, her words blunt, hard-hitting and honest. Already breaking into a grin, she took a drink in a reflexive motion, ignoring the stunned look and coloring that spread across Phoebe’s face, the way Tessa’s eyes flicked warily, distant.

”Sounds like pretty good odds.” Came Mac’s grinning response. “They doubled me up with a Lieutenant who’s so green and scrawny a cadet could order him around. Come on back with me to my place, and I’ll show you just how good of a pilot I am, if you think you can handle this old fighter ace.”

“There’s definitely something to be said for experience.” She grinned, then glanced at Tessa, “But the truth is, I’ve already got someone who can satisfy me anytime and anywhere.” Hands touched, interlaced. A grin dropped and cracked open across Tessa’s face as Phoebe’s features turned an uncomfortable shade of scarlet.

“That’s no problem.” Mac countered. “I’d be happy to show you both the benefits of an older man.” He leaned forward, winked again. “I can go for hours.”

“Love is better when it goes lickety-split.” Tessa grinned. “Take it from someone who knows.”

“You don’t know what you’re missing,” Mac grinned again.“I have a reputation in at least fifteen systems.”

“I–” Davidson stood, cleared his throat, the red in his cheeks going past the hue in Phoebe’s face as all eyes went to him. “I just remembered– I forgot to do something...”

“We making you uncomfortable, JG?” Izzy asked, grinning wider.

“No, I...” He glanced at Phoebe, let his eyes meet Izzy’s, Tessa’s. “Something in my quarters I’ve got to do.”

“Y-yeah, me too.” Phoebe managed. For a moment, she and Davidson locked eyes, but the look broke apart almost as quickly as it had formed.

“We still have that bet, you know.” Mac reminded her suddenly. “Your Blasterchild against my Slashdriver...

“Oh... right.” She tried a smile. “That match in the simulator.” The smile turned sour at the edges. “Listen, give it up. You really don’t stand a chance. Maybe if we were both flying Slashdrivers, but–”

“I wouldn’t let you have that kind of advantage.” Mac shot back. “Besides, once you see just how badly I can whoop you in the simulator with the K-8, you’ll never look at that piece of crap you fly the same way again.” He laughed.

“You’re delusional.” She shot back.

“Nah, you’re just scared.” He grinned again. “Come on, let’s go, right now.” He smacked a fist against his chest. “Make me a believer.”

Phoebe swallowed, glanced at Izzy, let her eyes stray as far as Tessa. When her gaze snapped back to Mac’s a moment later, it had hardened, edged by resolve.

“Alright.” She nodded once, quickly. “Let’s go.”

“One hundred big ones.” He reminded her.

“Coming right out of your retirement allotment.”  Came the ready response.
Full title: The Tessa Chronicles: The Cygnus War #49 (Love and Bravado)

Author Blurb: Still doing the daily blog thing, and pretty happy with the results so far. Heck, the other day one of my pages got literally 70,000 page views over the course of eight hours. It was pretty rockin!

Progress report: Y’all are gonna laugh.
So I had a whole week to myself to work on stuff, to get caught up on homework and put some time in on TTC finally. How far did I get? Not only did I manage to write as far as #54, I’m pretty jazzed about how the episodes between here and there turned out! So yeah, TTC will continue, and at this point, it’s handled almost all the way up into May!

Anyway, this is the forty-ninth installment of TTC: The Cygnus War. You can find the previous episode here: [link] The next episode will appear on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 (PST)

1362 Words
© 2009 - 2022 Durkee341
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purpleduckling's avatar
Funny episode.

"...had the ovaries to praise a man..." Yes indeedy. Women need somewhere to put their courage too.

Now for the nit-picking. You say "came Mac's grinning response" twice in quick succession, and that feels a bit awkward. Like I've accidently skipped back to what I've already read.
And one other thing, that I noticed in Pink Carbide as well. If you're using a dialogue tag, you don't end the dialogue with a full stop, and you start the tag with a lower case letter (so "missing.' Came Mac’s" should be "missing,' came Mac's").

As for the story itself, no problems there. Good as usual, better than average even.

I know I'm late commenting, but... school.