Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Scout's Duty - Chapter 59

< Chapter 58                                                                                                   Chapter 60 >
Our hero and the women prepare to repair the spaceship and train a new crew!

Six months to train a crew had sounded optimistic in the extreme to me, but I hadn't thought it through like Laura had.  It would be impossible to train astrogators and engineers in six years, much less six months.  The educational foundation just wasn't there to teach these advanced skills.  But Martin and I already knew astrogation and the combined knowledge of the women formed the basis of a good engineering crew.  We'd all be run ragged if anything went wrong, but we could handle the load long enough to reach the pirate base and the nearest naval base after that.

What we needed were laser gunners and missile launchers and a couple of helmsmen to backup Martin and me.  We'd be well short of the training you'd find on a naval vessel -- or a pirate ship -- but if we had to fight our way into the pirate base we were in deep trouble, anyway.  I was much more concerned about training helmsmen, a concern that proved to be misplaced.  Once he learned the control layout, Nist proved to be just as talented with a spaceship as he was with an airship.  The real surprise was our second best helmsman.  Perhaps it was youthful reflexes or his absolute dedication to insuring he got to come with us, but Milo was almost as good as Nist.

Preparing a crew for a single voyage was easy compared to what Callan and Rupor went through.  Every country and city-state on the planet clamored to be included.  Alliances were struck and broken daily as politicians maneuvered to secure a spot for their representatives.  Callan squashed three attempts to renege on my promise to rescue the women's husbands.  Rupor fought against nobles intent on traveling with huge retinues.  The ship was repaired and the crew trained weeks before the diplomatic wrangling ended.

Six and a half months after it crashed, the newly christened spaceship Aashla's Hope rose into the sky.  After two planet-bound years, I returned to space!

Can our hero navigate the planetary ring and safely reach the wormhole back to galactic civilization?  Find out in Chapter 60, coming Friday!