CHAPTER 41 B
"Hanger" Kate said as the lift doors closed. Kate watched from behind the closed air lock doors as the next squadron took off for guard duty. She knew the incoming group would not land until the next squadron was out. She could hear the ship to ship chatter between the pilots as they took their positions. The last stinger left the hanger and was far enough away from the ship so there would be no near misses.
The stingers landed and quickly moved out of the way. The last ship to land was Kacey's shuttle. "Close Hanger doors" She commanded as soon as she cleared the doors. She backed her shuttle into her assigned space and waited for the atmosphere to be returned. The green lights came on. Pilots opened their cockpits bubbles and left their stingers as the air lock doors opened. The pilots all saluted Kate as they passed her. From her position, Kate watched Natalia stand and kiss Kacey. She hit the private message button on her communicator. "All right you two, no necking in the hanger.." The Marines near by laughed until Kate glared them into silence. They quickly returned to their duties.
The ramp open. Kacey and Natalia walked out. Kacey closed the ramp. "What's the matter Kate, jealous that I can kiss my girl in my shuttle?" Kate rolled her eyes. "What brings you down to my domain today?"
"We, as in the three of us, need to have a talk." Kate said.
"Come into my office, then." Kacey said as she led the way to her office. She keyed in the code. The door opened and the lights came on automatically. Kacey went to the coffee pot and poured them each a cup. She handed one to Kate and Natalia and kept one for herself, before she sat behind her desk. "What's up Kate?"
"Did you get authorization to take a crew member off ship?"
"A crew member, Kate? It was Natalia. Remember her? My wife? I listed her on the flight roster."
"What you both should have done is ask permission first. " Kate told her.
"Kate, I asked Kacey to take me with her."
"Natalia, it does not matter whose idea it was. It was still an unauthorized trip. You could be charged with being A. W. O. L."
"AWOL come on Kate." Kacey interrupted. "We were only gone for three hours. I do not ask permission every time I go out."
"Different set of circumstances, Kacey. That is part of your duties. Look before you get angry, all I am saying is you need to get permission. I have no problem with you taking Natalia or anyone else out if they are off duty. Just clear it with me first."
"All right, Kate. Chalk it up to my first mistake of the day."
"Good. I also think we can find someone to take in that flight suit for Natalia so that it fits better." Kate said with a smile.
"That would be great. I had to roll the sleeves up several times just to see my hands. One of the pilots had to tape the cuffs so that I wouldn't trip. Marines have no concept of the word small. Why is that Kacey?"
"We know what small is. We just do not have a lot of calls for it. I have already posted a request for the next star traveler to have more small and medium flight suits. Most pilots are between five seven and five ten, because of the cramped cockpits of the stingers. Those of us who are taller take the shuttles. It is too uncomfortable in the stingers."
"You can fly the stingers?" Natalia asked.
"I am qualified to fly about a dozen different ships. I even got a crash course in piloting Andromeda in the event all the other pilots are out of commission."
"Damn, I didn't know that?" Kate stated.
"I spent several days working in a simulator right after I was picked for this mission. After we had the first briefing."
"How did you like it out there, Natalia?"
"It was great. The stars seemed so close. Made me feel so small and insignificant."
Kate laughed. "It hits everyone that way the first time. Just make sure you get permission next time you want to go on an off ship jaunt."
"Will do Kate. It really was just an oversight."
Kate finished her coffee and stood up. "Will you be going back out today?"
"No, my flight time is finished for today. Maybe I will come up to the Bridge after lunch."
"Any time, little sister. You do not have to wait for an invitation."
"I know that Kate. Ready for lunch Talia?" Natalia nodded.
To be continued...
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