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Old November 13 2008, 07:12 PM   #61
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part III, Chapter 4

Oh, wow...

I didn't even realize you were a woman!!!

In all seriousness, I think it's because you've captured the male perspective so well--even the things that aren't so comfortable to write, like their banter about women.
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Old November 13 2008, 07:14 PM   #62
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Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part III, Chapter 4

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
Oh, wow...

I didn't even realize you were a woman!!!

In all seriousness, I think it's because you've captured the male perspective so well--even the things that aren't so comfortable to write, like their banter about women.
LMAO! Well, hopefully it won't change your perspective on this stuff too much. ;-) But yeah -- I'm Steff, married Mom of two, stringer for the local newspaper, all that exciting stuff.
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Old November 13 2008, 07:24 PM   #63
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Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part III, Chapter 4

Nahh...it won't change my perspective. To me it just shows how well you write.
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Old November 13 2008, 11:39 PM   #64
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Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind

I'm up to chapter 3, and I have to say Scotty's finally coming into his own here. Finally, the man has developed a friend, and has a social life (sort of). I feared he was destined to become some kind of weird engineer/hermit/monk. Here's hoping he keeps his hands off Corry's little sister, though.

Terrific stuff!
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Old November 13 2008, 11:43 PM   #65
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Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind

Gibraltar wrote: View Post
I'm up to chapter 3, and I have to say Scotty's finally coming into his own here. Finally, the man has developed a friend, and has a social life (sort of). I feared he was destined to become some kind of weird engineer/hermit/monk. Here's hoping he keeps his hands off Corry's little sister, though.

Terrific stuff!
Yeah, he does keep his hands off of Cor's sister (despite wishing he wouldn't have to!) -- I more feel for Corry, who's not sure which one to be protective of. His somewhat free-wheeling little sister, or his admittedly naive roommate.
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Old November 14 2008, 01:01 AM   #66
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Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part III, Chapter 5

Chapter 5:

Friday, May 5th, 2243
H&W Shipyards
Team C Headquarters
Belfast, Ireland, Earth


Open the seams, caulk between the planks. The wood didn't want to give now that it had dried and tightened to the frame of the schooner, but to make her as watertight as she would have to be to face the seas, it was necessary. Pull the wedges, let the boards settle on the cotton, tar and strands, let it dry and smooth it over.

The next seam. It was a progression, following behind the team who laid the final boards to rest on her stern and transom. There was a symmetry there; they all had a job and knew exactly how to do it.

In the old days, working outside, ships took a long time to build. Back then, there had been no lights or indoor berths big enough for these crafts, so her builders had to work in the elements, all seasons. There had been no measuring devices so precise, no tricorders to record the exact composition of everything, and there had been no Starfleet cadets so determined to either sail into glory or ruin.

The twenty-four gun schooner Lady Grey was something purely unique.

The men who worked on her had long since abandoned several of the historical practices they were originally using, turning to more modern ways of getting the job done faster. But even though they now cut the wood with precise micron torches, measured to the decimals of a millimeter to insure there would be no re-cutting needed, they still walked away with tar under their nails and callouses on their hands.

Scott had managed to find a nice middle ground, and that just thrilled him to no end. Now, instead of trusting an old hand-saw with his timbers, he could use the technology that he loved so much to make the ship that much better. Afterall, he was building her to last. He might end up failing the class and being held back another year, or worse, but he sure was going to have a nice legacy for it.

Her hull was almost finished. Taking a break from the work, one of the very few he allowed himself, he stepped back and trained a sharp gaze over her starboard side. Inside of the hull, another group of cadets worked on putting in her ceilings and bulkheads, and a team of three worked with Albright on the cannon problem. The bilge would be done just after the hull, maybe a day later at most. Her below decks would be finished a few days later, and then they could lay out her maindeck.

Frowning slightly, he ran through the math again. For the most part, she would be all right with the guns on her first below deck... but if she heeled too terribly far over, those ports would be underwater. And the last thing he needed was for her to start taking on water through the gun ports -- one of the things he had to compensate for when he decided to turn her into a ship of war. Originally, she wasn't designed for it, but he couldn't very well turn around and start all over.

Mulling the problem over, he paced up and down the length of her hull, trying to figure out a way to make those ports as water tight as possible. On a rough day, wind on the beam, she would heel a fair bit... one good gust could put those ports under, and it would take half the crew on the pumps to get the water out. Meanwhile, her center of gravity's been changed, as well as her righting arm, and if they ended up in a gale, she could well go down on that alone.

"I've been thinking," Corry said, pausing himself and jogging to catch up to his pacing roommate. "The recoil on those guns -- it's gonna be something serious."

"Mm hm," Scotty replied, not really paying much attention. He was worried about the guns, but he was more worried about the Grey's structural integrity.

Corrigan didn't take any notice of the absent look, and continued cheerily, "Well, you know there'll normally have to be a bunch of guys on the breeching ropes, right?"

"Aye..."

"Well, what if we were to get a really strong rubber-type-thing, and set it up to be connected once the gun's run out? I mean, it'll have to be able to absorb the shock and not bounce the cannon through the hull, but I'll bet we can find something in the database we can use."

Scott nodded, still working on the other problem. "All right, look into it and--" Blinking a few times, he stopped, thought about it, ran it over logically. "Corry, ye're a genius!"

"Am I?" Corry grinned, brightly. "I thought you'd like it."

"The gunports! Line the gunports with a seal, dog 'em down right good..." Jumping once in pure excitement, Scotty took off for the mold loft.

Corry raised an eyebrow, watching for a moment. Well, that was kind of strange... still, apparently something made sense about it. Shaking his head, he turned back to the ship and grabbed a wedge to spread the next seam.

As fast as they were working, it was hard to imagine that they wouldn't be finished in time. Knowing that they were going to be under a wire, Corry had asked for volunteers, and since he could charm better than Scotty could, he had gathered another five people to work in only a few days. That brought their grand total up to thirty-one... a respectable enough number. The best part was, four out of the five had some sailing experience.

"Port side done!" Jansson sang out, and it was the sweetest sound in the world.





"Polaris... and Etamin, and over there's Deneb." Pointing up at the spanned ceiling of the slip, Scott was definitely in a mood that could only be described as 'out there'. The foredeck of the Lady Grey had been started, and on a whim he had decided to climb up there. So, laying on unvarnished decking, a dreamy tone in his voice, he was far closer to the stars than one would immediately think possible in an indoor berth. "Altair and Vega, o' course..."

Corrigan sat against the bulwark, just listening. It was desperately late... or early, however one looked at it, and the front of the slip was dark. They had a two weeks and five days to finish the schooner; it was going to be so close to the wire that it was downright frightening. Her bilge was completely finished, as were the belowdecks. Day and night cadets worked in shifts, sneaking into the shipyards like bandits whenever the yards had been closed down to them. One team would work solidly from 0630 to 1430, mostly composed of whoever could afford the personal leave time to cut class. The next team worked from 0230 to 2000, made sure they were seen leaving, then crept back in and worked until curfew. And, from curfew at 2200 to 0630, the small graveyard shift worked.

It required lots of illegal dealings (breaking and entering came to mind), and it required hacking into the security cameras to run a continuous loop tape of the night-time, empty shipyard, and it required lots of silence and sleeplessness, but the ends justified the means. At least, to Corry they did.

It was the only way they could hope to complete her, and so far it had worked fabulously. Between their shifts they slept and studied for their other finals, and it wasn't uncommon to hear them shouting back and forth, quizzing each other in test preparation.

It was still going to be desperately close.

"D'you think we'll get her finished?" Corry asked, quietly, before he even realized it.

Not looking away from the imaginary stars, Scotty said confidently, "Aye, I think we'll be done in plenty o' time."

Corrigan nodded, though he wasn't convinced. Even with their extra hands, even as well as they had the system worked out, it was too close to call in his opinion. "How long do you think it'll take to step in the masts once we have the deck finished?"

"A day to get 'em in, another day or so to properly fit the collars, and who knows how long to set the stays." Scott shrugged, awkwardly, then went back to his stargazing. "Capella, and Regulus... 'course, they all just have number names we can use, but those sound so bloody impersonal."

"The sails and that should come in soon. I did order doubles for everything."

"Alioth, Dubhe, Markab..."

"You're really into that, aren't you?"

"Mm hm."

Corry looked up at the ceiling of the slip, halfway wishing he could see the stars that were being named. But it was raining in Belfast -- as usual -- and all there really was up there were a whole lot of archways and plating. Shaking his head with a wry chuckle, he stretched out on the decking himself, putting his arms behind his head. "Orion's gone, I think."

Scott nodded, almost solemnly. "Aye, up an' runnin' from that scorpion. T'would be a miserable thing, bein' chased for all eternity like that."

"Yeah, I think it'd get old after so long." Corry pointed to a spot on the ceiling. "Big Dipper."

"Little to the left," Scotty corrected, good-naturedly, pointing in the right direction. Yawning, he added, "Right up there, and follow it to True North."

"True North is one degree off Polaris."

"Picky, picky."

Corrigan shook his head, closing his eyes with a smile. "You corrected me, it's only fair I return the favor."

"Eh, I just think ye're persnickety." Grinning wickedly, the other cadet closed his eyes as well.

Corry gasped in mock horror. "Persnickety?! This from you? Yeah, you just keep thinking you're the head honcho, Pup, and I'll just keep pulling your fat out of the fire."

"Wolf. That's Wolf t'you."

"Maybe Cub, maybe Pup, maybe even Mutt... but not Wolf."

"Bastard."

Corry shook his head to himself with a grin. "That's me all right."

Steadfastly ignoring him now, Scott just went back to his constellations. "Draco, Leo, Perseus..."

It took him on the whole of another three minutes to talk himself to sleep.



--
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Old November 14 2008, 01:02 AM   #67
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Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part III, Chapter 5

--



"Gun ready!"

The quiet Irish field had been singing softly in the wind before they showed up. The grass had danced in the breeze, the day had been gorgeous and the countryside was a perfect picture of peace and quiet. For miles around there was nothing but trees and grass, a cottage or two, and this lovely serenity that could permeate the body and revive the spirit of man.

Then they showed up and ruined it all.

"Run 'er out!" Corrigan barked, in a voice that would impress anyone who knew how he usually spoke. Standing there in his civilian clothes, striking a dramatic stance, he could have really been a pirate.

Albright, Jansson, Lewis and Sallee pulled on the tackles, bringing the gun up to the makeshift port that sat so oddly on the countryside. Scotty, in all of his occasional foolishness, stood well behind the gun, while Balimer prepared to pull the cord and fire.

Corry grinned, just because he could. "Fiyah!!!"

*BOOM!*

The gun recoiled, perhaps going a little bit further back than intended, and though it didn't smack into Scott full force, it still knocked him backwards into a patch of mud. The cannonball whistled through the air, thudding into the ground loud enough to be heard even at a distance of hundreds of meters.

"Bloody Hell," the slightly surprise cadet muttered, getting back to his feet and giving the gun a glowering look. "Reload!"

"We should check the recoil," Corry commented, pleasantly, beaming a smile at his less than thrilled roommate. "Seems she's flying back further than we thought she would."

Scott growled, brushing the mud off... or trying to. In the end, he only really succeeded in making himself dirtier. "Ye just figured that out, did ye?"

"Oh, come on. On some pleasure planets, a mud bath costs a fortune."

"Corry?"

"Yeah, Scotty?"

"Shut up."

Corry snickered, watching as the inexperienced gun crew did their best to swab out the cannon, reload the powder and ball, and take up the tackles. It certainly took them long enough, but then, it wasn't like they weren't going to get better with practice.

"Gun ready!" Albright hollered, a note of joy in his voice as his cannon was performing like he expected.

Corrigan gestured grandly to his roomie. "Captain Larsen, by all means."

"Run 'er out!" Scott yelled, no less impressive than Corry. He wasn't going to be shown up -- well, he was already shown up because he'd made the mistake of trusting the gun's recoil and the men on the breeching ropes, but he wasn't going to lose any more face. Standing well to one side, he waited and then commanded, "Fire!!"

*BOOM!*

They watched the trajectory, kind of impressed. Afterall, it wasn't easy to get a cannon, ammo and powder into the middle of no where -- it was kind of nice to see it hadn't gone to waste.

Corry waited until the ball hit the ground before saying, "Just a pointer..."

Scotty rolled his eyes in exasperation. "Aye?"

"It's not 'fire', it's 'fiyah'." Nodding smartly, the older cadet took the next one. "Reload!"

"What's the damn difference?"

"Finesse, my backwards little Scotsman, finesse!"

"Ye're enjoyin' this way too much."

"Gun ready!" This time Jansson got to sing it out. Their time was improving, if he did say so himself. Taking up the tackles, he looked back expectantly.

Corrigan struck another dramatic pose, much to the annoyance of his best friend. "Run 'er out!"

"Waaaaay too much." Shaking his head, Scott watched the gun being pulled back to the port. They wouldn't have another shot there, not with the way the wheels were digging ruts into the ground, but they could always move the whole ensemble over.

"FIYAH!" Corry bellowed, extra loud for good measure.

*BOOM!*

"I think it'll be impressive," Scott mused, jogging over in all of his mud stained glory to help push the gun to another spot.

Albright grinned proudly, pulling the cannon into it's new position. "So what do you think, Wolf? Good machinery?"

"The best," Scotty answered, honestly. "Ye've outdone yerself, Joey."

"Hey, I helped," Jansson protested, though not very strongly. It was too much fun firing cannonballs and watching the black dirt fly up where they hit.

Corrigan finished dragging the makeshift port over. "All right, maties, back to work." Giggling somewhat maniacally, he could help but adding, "ARRRRRR!"

The other five cadets gave him a worried look, and he cleared his throat. "Sorry... reload!"

"Arrrrr?" Scott asked, stepping back to join his roomie, one eyebrow raised in pure amusement.

"Seemed like the right thing to say," Corry explained, turning a little red. "Besides, we need to get into the spirit of it somehow, right?"

"Oh, absolutely." Scotty was laying the sarcasm on with not just a trowel, but a bulldozer.

"Gun ready!"

"Run 'er out!" Scott called, quite smartly in his own opinion. Corry wasn't the only one who could play the part of a naval officer, not in the least. When the gun was in place, he smirked and barked, "FIRE!!"

*BOOM!*

"Fiyah, dammit, fiyah." Corry shook his head. "Amateur."

"Cor?"

"Yeah?"

"Feel free t' take a long walk--"

"I know, I know, off a short pier. Reload!"

It went on like that for another twenty minutes or so, one shot after another flying across to the hill on the other side of the small river below them. The times were improving, as was their aim. They were feeling quite proud of themselves when something beeped insistently.

Scotty frowned, pulling his communicator out of his pocket and scraping the mud off of the case before flipping it open. "Scott here."

The voice came over the small speaker, calm but with an underlying edge of urgency. "You guys had better pack up your gun. If what I'm hearing through the grapevine is correct, Starfleet security's being sent out to investigate some odd happenings right in your vicinity."

Corry swallowed hard, and the rest of them all edged in close to hear. Taking the communicator and ignoring the glare he got from Scott, he asked, "When was this?"

"About ten minutes ago, so you'd better get moving post haste."

"All right, out." Corrigan flipped the communicator closed and shot an anxious look around the group. "We've got maybe three minutes to ditch this gun and get out of here."

"So what the Hell're we standin' here for?!" Looking around frantically, Scott tried to figure out exactly how they would get a three hundred pound gun, plus all of the ammo and powder packed into the air van they had rented. Later in his life people would call him a miracle-worker... apparently that particular talent hadn't quite kicked in yet.

Albright immediately started pushing on the gun, but it wasn't in the direction of the van. "C'mon, we have to move!"

"Where're you going?!" Corry asked, looking between the gun and the van, the gun and the van.

"The river!"

"Jesus Christ!"

"Dinna think He's listenin', Cor," Scotty muttered, grabbing an armful of the gunpowder bundles and making for the river like a greyhound.

Jansson didn't even pause, just threw himself into pushing on the twenty-four pounder with Albright and Sallee. Balimer was pale as he grabbed a cannonball in each arm and raced for the river as fast as forty-eight extra pounds would allow, and Corry was almost giddy as he followed the example.

About halfway down the hill, Jerry and Joe let the cannon go, and it headed for the water seemingly under it's own power.

The sound of shuttlecraft engines in low atmosphere flying mode became evident.

Albright summed it up for all of them as he ran back and grabbed another two of the cannonballs, struggling with the weight. "Shitshitshitshitshit!!"

"Ohmigodohmigodohmigod," was Corry's chosen litany, as he ran back for more ammo. They only had another two left after that, but the sound of those engines had worked them into a frenzy.

Scott grabbed those last two, sliding on the wet grass. It wasn't good luck he was having that day; the momentum, the slope and the added weight was enough to throw him completely off balance. In the back of his mind, he thought that he had just lost his righting arm and was going down, but that was cut off when he slammed down onto his back.

Well, it had been a good effort. He was just getting back to his feet, muddy, disheveled, holding two twenty-four pound cannonballs, when two security officers walked across from where the shuttle had landed right about where the gun had been on the top of the hill.

Needless to say, Scotty didn't particularly care to think about how this looked.

"We've received a report about..." The first officer, one of those square-jawed-built-like-a-brick-outhouse-and-eats-nails-for-dinner-types, said without preamble. However, upon observing this baby-faced, none too tall, filthy to the skin cadet, his voice trailed off.

"Report, sir?" Scott asked, eyebrows up in pure, undiluted innocence.

Blinking a few times, the man got his bearings. "...report about a noise disturbance in the area. What do you know about this?"

"It was me," Corry apologized, stepping up to his best friend's shoulder in an attempt to at least take part of the heat. "I had beans for lunch, sir."

The second officer, the one who looked rather like he would be the poor guy who ended up walking into a cave alone, phaser undrawn, to an untimely ending couldn't help but snicker. Afterall, he was only a year or two older than these cadets. "You're telling us that it was--"

"Yes, sir, I am." Corrigan nodded smartly, elbowing Scotty when he started choking on his own laughter.

Chief Eats Nails scowled. He didn't like being joked with. One didn't survive long in Starfleet Security by joking. He shot a look back at Albright, still in his uniform, who was red-faced himself after Corry's comments. "You're a cadet... are all of you?"

Joe just couldn't keep the quaver from his voice, about ready to fall over in helpless giggles. "Yes, sir, Engineering Division."

"And you?" The older man leveled an icy glare back at Scott, who probably couldn't have answered with a straight face even if he wanted to. "Name and rank."

Before he could stop himself, Scotty replied, "Montgomery Scott, Fourth Year Cadet an' man in charge o' ball bearings. The official ball bearer."

"It's a good post for him, sir. He loves playing with balls." Corry knew he'd get the Hell beat out of him for that one, but it was such a perfect setup that there just wasn't any resisting it. "And I think it's better than being a pall bearer... if you know what I mean, sir."

That was it. Albright fell over, laughing helplessly. Jansson and Balimer were literally crying. Sallee was gasping for air between violent giggles. And poor Scotty, who had already had a hard time trying to keep from just breaking down finally did, keeling over unceremoniously and laughing so hard he didn't make a sound.

Corry was the only one who fought back the temptation. "Really, sirs, we were just going for a nice walk in the countryside, and those beans caught up to me, and that was the end of it."

The five cadets and younger security officer just howled harder.

Chief Eats Nails growled. There wasn't much he could do... they didn't seem to be doing anything wrong, and if he stayed there, he'd lose any semblance of authority. "Clear out, and get back to your campus."

"Oh, yes sir, absolutely."

The older officer marched away. The younger one managed to wave to them, still laughing up a storm, and followed.

Not about to let his roommate get away with such an shameless play on words, Scott somehow found enough strength to lob one of the twenty-four pound cannonballs onto Corry's foot. It would probably be the only retribution he would get, but at least no one could say he took it without putting up a fight. Then, while Corry screamed so high that only dogs and Antarian bats could hear it, he just went right back to laughing.

One cannon, ammo and powder included, was a worthwhile sacrifice for that day.
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Old November 14 2008, 06:45 AM   #68
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Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part III, Chapter 6

Chapter 6:

Wednesday, May 31st, 2243
H&W Shipyards
Team C Headquarters
Belfast, Ireland, Earth


The final week under the deadline was one of frantic energy. It passed in a blur -- that was the only way to really describe it. The high energy, take no prisoners, final crunch blur that exists for anyone fighting time, fighting right to the last few moments to finish something they had already put so much into.

It didn't help that everyone had finals to worry about, as well as internship paperwork. Scotty hadn't even bothered to fill out his; he had basically taken up residence in the shipyards, one high-wired mass in motion. That last week was his last chance to beat the odds, and one could never accuse him of being anything less than confident that he would. He basically took his other finals without studying, just using his expertise to see him through the worst of it. This was the one that counted.

Tomorrow morning she would take to the water.

It seemed pretty far away, really. After an entire six and some odd months of his life that he'd put into the Lady Grey, tomorrow would be when she became what he had built her to be -- a sailing ship. Looking back on that six months, he couldn't be sure of whether he'd always done the right thing, but he did know one thing beyond a doubt.

It had been worth it. Even through the fighting, the anger, the uncertainty, it had been worth it.

It was her last night in her cradle, and his last chance to see her from her bow for a very long time... maybe even forever. Tomorrow she would slide into Belfast Lough and he would be running around the below decks checking for leaks, testing the rigging, dropping and hauling up the anchor; in short, making sure she was ready to handle the real thing.

Tomorrow, she wouldn't be his anymore.

Starfleet owned the Lady Grey on paper. Starfleet had fronted the bill for her and they legally had ownership over her. After the race, they could order her to be sold, or they could sign her over to one of the historical societies... they could even have her dismantled. He knew all of that.

That didn't change the fact that she was his ship. Starfleet might own her on paper, but he owned the Lady Grey in every way that really mattered -- or maybe she owned him. Honestly, he didn't know which it was, just that she was his ship and he was her builder and that was all there was to it.

Until tomorrow. Tomorrow she would officially be a schooner, created as a class final for a grade, and after the grading was over, she would be Corry's.

It was a lot easier to take it this time around. He stood there in the darkened slip, a few yards in front of her, and took in the sight. Her bowsprit angled sharp and long above his head, stays attached, staysails furled and ready. Her bow was sharp and her sides flared, a washed gray color; there was no visible trace of the gunports either on the outside of her hull, or the inside. In the end, he'd masked them with extremely thin planks, glued in place -- they only had to hide the gunports until she was on the open sea anyway.

She didn't look like he had pictured, not with gunports and not gray instead of stained brown, but that was all right. She was beautiful anyway. Made for speed, made for the wind, made to fly.

It was hard not to be sentimental now, this close to the end. Scott smiled a half-smile to himself, stepping forwards and leaning on the wood much like he had before, when his world was falling down around his ears. This time, though, there wasn't any misery in the motion. He didn't need the Lady Grey to hold him up... he could just take the moment of silence to really appreciate her.

Tomorrow, she would belong to someone else. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing though, that when it was all said and done, she would still own part of him. Life dictated that it couldn't last forever, and that a person's first love isn't usually their true love, but no one ever forgot the first.

And he would never forget her.




"Just do it, already!" Jansson was practically jumping up and down with pent up energy. From where he stood, there was absolutely no reason whatsoever to delay the christening of the ship, particularly because Barrett would be around in two hours to grade the project.

Corrigan frowned, holding the old bottle of Scotch in both hands, the bottle he'd used to bribe his roommate with months ago. Glancing at Scott, he said, "I still think you should do it."

"And I think ye'd better get crackin'," Scotty replied, with a grin. "Literally."

"If you don't, I will." Albright crossed his arms from where he stood on the fore deck, leaning on the port bulwark. "Can't send a ship out without christening her properly."

Corry looked around, but apparently this duty was going to fall on him. Wincing, he smashed the bottle over her bow, sending shards of glass and amber liquor every which way. "I hereby name thee Lady Grey."

The entire crew broke into wild applause. This was their payoff, and now there was nothing between them and the sea. They cheered their throats sore, and finally got down to the business of launching the officially named ship from her safe haven. The sliding ways had been greased down with artificial tallow, and all but a handful of the crew ran outside to take up the ropes they'd use to guide her to her dock.

Jansson had the privilege of setting the ship into motion, clicking the switch in the front of the slip that worked the gears. The ways engaged, carrying the Lady Grey far enough to allow her own weight to carry her forwards.

It was an experience in itself to see that. Corry watched from where he was on the ropes... watched as she crept forwards a few inches, then a foot, then picked up speed. Her bow slid into the Lough smoothly; on either side, the water parted in an unbroken arc. If the sun had been out, there would have surely been a rainbow.

And in less than a minute, the Lady Grey was afloat.

Silence reined for longer than that, a bubble that cut off the sounds of the teams on either side of their dock, cut off the industrial noise, cut off even the sound of the water washing lightly at her planked sides. Nothing else was respectful enough... each member of that team in their own thoughts, each reliving a moment they worked on her, each thinking of the section of wood they had helped lay.

It lasted for a small eternity before finally someone broke the reverie and started hauling on the port side ropes single-handedly. Eventually everyone gave in and helped out, but they didn't speak even then... only pulled in unison, bringing the Lady Grey up to the massive fenders and tying the lines off to the cleats.

Corrigan was the first to actually speak, though when he did, it wasn't in anything more than a whisper, "Jesus..."

It was enough to break the spell, though, and before long the entire dock was all noise; excited chatter, reverent whispers, stunned proclamations. Corry still wasn't quite able to get his voice above that quiet tone, not quite able to get over the indescribable feeling of seeing the ship that had once only been lines on paper now wood on the water.

Scotty was actually a lot more vocal; not cheering, whispering or proclaiming, just speaking in a calm, certain voice, "Should get aboard and sound the hull."

Corry nodded, pretty much forcing himself away from the cacophony of thought. "Yeah. Shouldn't be any problems, though."

"Better safe than sorry." Gesturing for a few people to help with the gangplank, Scott helped them guide it up and against the ship's side. Then, taking a deep breath, he climbed up and onboard.

Albright jogged over, his shoes making an almost knocking sound on the decking. "I've already been around the fo'c'sle... there are a few small drips here and there, but that's supposedly normal."

"Nothin' too serious, so long as we don't spring a real leak." Starting off for the stairs to the below decks, Scotty was a little startled when Corry grabbed him by the arm and hauled him back. "What the--?"

"Take a look," Corrigan said, softly, pointing down the way.

O'Sullivan stood on the end of Team B's dock, his arms crossed as he watched the Lady Grey and her crew. And on the side of Sean Kelley's ship, the steel square-rigger, was a name in red.

Queen Mary.

"Well, that's subtle." Scotty's voice was a mixture of amusement and ire. "Ye think they're tryin' to tell us somethin', Cor?"

"Noooo, I think it's perfectly innocent." Corrigan smirked, likewise unsure of whether he should be angry about it or amused by it. The fate of Lady Jane Grey had been sealed by Queen Mary I... at the end of a chopping block. "But nonetheless, history's not gonna repeat itself this time."

"Well, the real Lady Grey didn't have the benefit of--"

"--a determined crew, a damned good architect, and all sorts of other happy things," Corry interrupted, not wanting to bring the cannons up for fear of spies. But there was a twinkle in his eyes that was just downright wicked. "Now let's go make sure she's ready for it."




Commander Richard Barrett stepped onboard the Lady Grey two and a half hours later to no small amount of decorum. Lined on either side of the ship on her maindeck was the entirety of Team C. The cadets who had started, the people who had volunteered, the people who had probably been bribed... every one of them stood at parade rest, eyes forward.

Albright piped on an old bosun's whistle, the second piping of the traditional trill that signaled a high-ranking officer coming aboard. The pipe's effect was instantaneous (more because they'd spent fifteen of their precious minutes practicing than anything else) and the entire assembled crew snapped to attention.

Barrett smiled. It was hard not to, seeing how snappily they'd responded. And it was somehow very appropriate to him that Albright used an old pipe rather than the new electronic ones Starfleet preferred. "Permission to come aboard, Mister Corrigan?"

Corry stepped forward from where he and his design team were, face set in uncompromising lines. "Permission granted and welcome aboard, Commander."

"Thank you, Ensign," Barrett replied, slipping easily into the formality of the moment. Holding his electronic clipboard in one hand, he glanced up and down the length of the deck. "Are you prepared for your tour of inspection?"

"Yes, sir, we are."

"Then lead on."

"Aye aye, sir!" Turning, Corry barked at his crew, "Dismissed!"


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Old November 14 2008, 06:45 AM   #69
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Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part III, Chapter 6

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A fine-toothed comb would have been an understatement. Barrett went all the way from the forepeak to the rudder, noting everything. The design team nearly passed out from holding their collective breaths while he walked the belowdecks, just waiting for him to discover the hidden gunports. They hadn't even risked putting the rings in for the breeching ropes, let alone actually having the cannons onboard, but as closely as Barrett was looking at everything, it was still nervewracking.

It was somewhere around there that he turned to look back at the cadets who were tailing his heels. "Why a gray wash on the hull?" he asked, then went back to looking around.

"It's her warpaint," Scott supplied, helpfully, and got a firm elbow in the ribs for it. He gave Corry a look, but immediately stopped when Barrett looked back again. "Well, it is a race, sir... ye don't really want everyone knowin' exactly where ye are, right?"

Barrett raised an eyebrow. "All the vessels are going to have transponders and communicators, per maritime law. Visual camouflage won't make much of a difference, will it?"

"Maybe not. But still, ye have to admit sir, she looks fine."

"She does look fine. Though, honestly, I will have to take points off for the modern tools used to build her." Barrett frowned, shaking his head. "I wish I didn't have to, but even working to repair the sabotage damage, you could have kept to more traditional tools. Even if you wouldn't have finished her, I would have been glad to grade what you had already done."

Albright spoke up this time, "We understand that, sir. The design team's willing to take responsibility for that, and if you could have it reflect on our grades instead of the whole teams, I think it would be appropriate."

"I'll think on that, but I doubt I'll change the policy." Barrett shook his head, making no effort to hide his unhappiness at the prospect. "This was a whole team project, afterall."

"Yes, sir," the four cadets mumbled, in near unison. Everyone on the team was dedicated to the cause, but if they could have taken the brunt of it, it would have been better for everyone. Still, there was no turning back now.

"Let's continue," the professor said, turning to start his walk forwards. He never looked twice at the inner hull of the schooner, where the ports were hidden.

Corry and Scotty exchanged a brief, relieved glance -- so far, so good -- and fell in behind.



They had assembled again after the inspection, all of Team C. Barrett paced the deck for a few moments, tallying up the scores on the clipboard he carried with a few taps on the tiny keyboard.

The tension in the air was more than a little apparent, and there wasn't a cadet aboard who was in this for a grade that wasn't worried about failing.

It was sad that even after all they had gone through, they were in danger of that fate. The commander took a deep breath, reading off the scores and double-checking, then triple-checking them to make sure. Looking up at the crew, his voice was somber as he passed the verdict... after six and a half months of work, it came to an hour and a half appraisal. "Due to the fact that modern tools were used to finish construction on the ship, and due to the fact that the sails, brassworks and a few of the mechanisms weren't created by this team, I've had to carefully evaluate this vessel and the workmanship. I've come to the conclusion that the design could not be faulted, and that the actual workmanship could not."

Noting that they looked a little more at ease with that, he continued, "I also took into account the sabotage and the attack on your head architect. These did factor into your grade. I didn't hold your going over budget against you, seeing as how you had to reorder the wood burned in the fire, and that factors in as well.

"I want to say something before I tell you what grade you've got." Barrett's tone softened, though he didn't change the volume of his voice. "It's not easy to come back against the odds you were facing, cadets. All of you have shown yourselves to be of the finest fabric Starfleet has... the kind that doesn't run away in the adversity of a situation, but keeps on fighting through it.

"I would like you to know that if I were grading this project on those qualities, you would all get one hundred percent. I've had the honor of teaching some very fine cadets in my day... and I'm very honored to have had you in my last class. I want you to remember that."

He took a deep breath, looking at each and every one of his students for the briefest of moments, long enough to let them each see personally just how much he meant those words and just how much he regretted this. "Team C, of the gaff-rigged schooner Lady Grey, you have received a seventy-two percent."

To their credit, they took it well. A few of them broke formation to look at their feet and Corry reprimanded them quietly. Most of them, though, held their heads up and refused to allow it to be known just how much that would hurt their grade point average.

Out of all of them, Scott had the most to lose. He had managed to hold onto his ranking as the first in the class only by the skin of his teeth, but this would knock him out of that spot and likely allow Kelley to take it over again, and maybe even a few others. But out of all of them, he took it the best... jaw set, eyes lit with determination, not even a hint of despair in his stance. The biggest pause he had, after Barrett's speech, was that he was about to soundly disappoint the professor's fine thoughts of them; of him.

But he was in for the fight, now.

Barrett handed the official printout to Corry, and Albright piped the bosun's whistle as the professor turned and walked off of the ship. That left them to absorb what had been said, and eventually Corrigan looked back up from the paper. "Dismissed."

Most of the cadets meandered over to see it for themselves, and the handful of others went back to discussing points of the ship. To say that it was completely miserable would have been a lie, because most of them had realized a long time ago that their grade certainly wouldn't be perfect. To actually see it in print, though, was disheartening enough that it was very quiet on the Lady Grey's decks.




The day had worn long for Andrew Corrigan. From 0630 when they had headed to the shipyards to launch the Lady Grey, to 1200 when they had been graded, to 1600 when he had finished his final paperwork for Starfleet Engineering Academy and officially re-requested his transfer to Starfleet Medical, to a rushed supper in the cafeteria and some errands, and now back to the docks again.

It was getting late, and now that classes were over for the year, he didn't have to be back for curfew. In August he would probably be in medschool while everyone else was getting their full commissions and starting internship. After the race he was going to go back home; when the next school year started the week before July, he'd have to vacate his dormroom, and that left him a month and a half to spend with family.

But he didn't want to go back to the dorms, so he went back to the ship instead. Climbing the gangplank, he took a few minutes to appreciate the complete quiet of the dock, and of the schooner. It was hard to believe he could remember when there was nothing to her but the start of a keel, and now he was standing onboard the real thing. The Lady Grey.

It was hard to feel unhappy about the grade while he stood on the finished product.

The ship was dark. Normally her lanterns would be lit, but since she sat at dock there wasn't really a need to. There were lights on across the street, but they did little to break up the blackness onboard. Above, the sky was clearing; clouds moved lazily, and the stars that could be seen were all the brighter for it. The moon was near full, and when it glinted on the Grey's decking, she seemed to be almost blue.

"Nice night."

Corry didn't even startle, though he hadn't really had more than a sneaking suspicion that his roommate was onboard. Turning, he glanced back at Scotty before looking at the sky and replying, "Yeah... almost like a dream."

Scott didn't say anything else, just let the companionable silence fall. It really was a fine night; warm for Belfast, which didn't have a very large temperature variation to begin with. The fact that it wasn't raining did a lot for that notion, and so did the break in the clouds.

"Finish your paperwork in time?" Corrigan asked, after awhile.

"Aye. Finished it by 1400. And Pearson seemed to think my final for his class was somethin' I actually took time on." Scott shrugged, one shouldered, and edged back to lean on the bulwark. He had turned in the first three stages of a starship design, and had received all sorts of praise -- it wouldn't have been wise if he had admitted to the reincarnated Captain Ahab that he'd just used one of his pet projects from well over a year ago. "Figured I'd come back here and keep watch for any rampagin' parties."

Corry chuckled, going back himself to lean next to his roommate. "Good idea. They already made it clear that they're still holding a grudge."

"Have a bigger one to hold when we're finished."

"That they will. And I, for one, can't wait." Corrigan chuckled, wryly, "Of course, I might not be so thrilled when my career ends in a court martial, but eh."

Scott nodded, in a quieter mood than normal. "Well, worse comes to worst, we end up livin' out our lives as civilians."

"Awfully nonchalant, coming from you..." Corry raised an eyebrow, looking over at his best friend. "You all right?"

Scotty raised both, an amused grin crossing his face. "Aye, I'm fine. Just too tired to worry myself stupid over somethin' that can't be changed." Shaking his head, he looked back up at the sky. "She's a good ship -- worth fightin' for."

"Yeah." Looking back up as well, Corry said, quietly, "I'm glad you kept fighting for her, too... I don't think there're very many people who would have."

"Why?"

"Because I look at them, and they see the final as a grade and a chance to be mildly famous. Then there's this team, and you in particular who doesn't care about the grade but about the ship." Smiling slightly, Corrigan took a deep breath of the salt-tinged air. "She's your ship, chief."

"My ship..." Scotty shook his head again, still watching the stars. Either because he was tired or because he wasn't the best speaker, it took him a few moments to come up with the right words. "She was mine, y'know. From the first time I stopped givin' a damn about this, that or th' other, and started carin' about what would happen to her, and what would happen t' you. And she was mine up until this afternoon."

Pushing himself up with both hands and finally looking back at Corry, he said, "She's yer ship now, Mr. Corrigan. I couldna think of a better man for her." And with that, he headed down the deck.

Corry blinked a few times, resisting the first impulse of chasing down his roomie and protesting. That would only lead to unhappiness, afterall -- Scott was touchy when it came to pride, and it was pride that made him give up the Lady Grey. He had built her for someone else, and even though the circumstances had changed, that was one thing he wouldn't back down on.

The schooner glowed in the light of the moon, soft blues and grays. Her sails looked almost ethereal, bright even though they were furled.

Corrigan sat quietly on the bulwark, listening to the sound of the water, and after a time accepted the gesture with the grace it was due. In that moment, he was more grateful than words could express that he'd taken pity on the harassed, hyperactive, stuttering ensign who had turned out to be the best friend he could ever have.
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Old November 14 2008, 07:31 AM   #70
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Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part III, Chapter 6

Wow. I hope we'll get to see the results of the race before you wrap this all up!

Just one question. Wouldn't dropping a 24-pound cannonball on someone's foot break every bone in that foot?
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Old November 14 2008, 07:57 AM   #71
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Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part III, Chapter 6

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
Wow. I hope we'll get to see the results of the race before you wrap this all up!

Just one question. Wouldn't dropping a 24-pound cannonball on someone's foot break every bone in that foot?
Nah. Not with service boots on. Twenty four pounds is heavy, but not THAT heavy -- take it from someone who's dropped a sixty-pound chase on her foot in tennis-shoes. It sure hurts, but despite the bruising, nothing breaks. Plus, it wasn't a drop from standing, it was more of a shove from the ground. And yes, you get to see the results, even if the results aren't what anyone would expect.
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Old November 14 2008, 07:59 AM   #72
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Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part III, Chapter 6

Looking forward to it!
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Old November 14 2008, 06:20 PM   #73
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Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part IV, Chapter 1

Part 4: Zero Moment

---- --------------- - --------- - --

Then spoke the thunder
D A
Datta: what have we given?
My friend, blood shaking my heart
The awful daring of a moment's surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed
Which is not to be found in our obituaries
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
In our empty rooms

-T.S. Eliot; The Waste Land

---- --------------- - --------- - --

Chapter 1:

Tuesday, June 4th, 2243
The
Lady Grey
Belfast Lough
Belfast, Ireland, Earth


"Come get your duds in order, 'cause we're bound across the water...!" Corry's warm tenor voice cut across the waters of Belfast Lough as he sang. Typically it was a sea shanty, traditional to working onboard, but the entire crew of the Lady Grey was on the port side railing, singing for the crew of the Queen Mary.

"Heave away, me jollies, heave away!" Team C answered, in not perfect but intelligible unison.

"Come get your duds in order, 'cause we're bound to leave tomorrow...!"

"Heave away, me jolly boys, we're all bound away!"

Of course, the Queen Mary's crew did their best to ignore the entire affair. It wasn't easy to ignore that many people singing at the tops of their lungs, but they were trying pretty damn hard to do so. A few of them looked over, and Sean Kelley stood on his quarter deck in cadet dress uniform, snorting in disgust, but that was all of the reaction that Team B would give.

Corrigan had specifically taught this shanty to Team C, mostly for one verse. It was a bit of a hint to Maggie, but then, they were on the starting line of the race and a bit of foreshadowing now couldn't hurt at all.

But right now, Scotty was busy on the refrain. He could sing himself, something that he only engaged in on occasion, but his voice carried just as well. "Sometimes we're bound for Liverpool, sometimes we're bound for Spain...!"

"Heave away, me jollies, heave away!"

"But now we're bound for old Saint Johns, where all the girls're dancin'...!"

"Heave away, me jolly boys, we're all bound away!"

Corry grinned, taking that beat to wave frantically in Maggie's direction. She didn't look up then, but when he launched into the next line she did... "So it's farewell Maggie darling, 'cause now I'm gonna leave...!"

"Heave away, me jollies, heave away!"

Maggie looked suitably flattered.

Corry grinned. "You promised you'd be true to me, but how you did deceive me...!"

Maggie no longer looked flattered. If anything, she looked like a shadow had just crossed her face... and that did catch the attention of a few select cadets on Team B.

"Heave away, me jolly boys, we're all bound away!"

Team C looked about ready to just fall over laughing. If the race excitement wasn't enough, and the realization that in about twenty minutes they would be going to sea for two weeks wasn't, teasing the other team was.

Corry wasn't finished yet. He had spent about an hour the night before looking up ways to make them squirm onboard the Queen Mary, and had searched through what seemed like pages and pages of song titles from the Starfleet database. He found an appropriate one, buried deep in the archives; more odd than that, he'd found it in the Vulcan library tapes that had been donated to Starfleet. He had no idea how that happened.

But still. He spun back towards the other ship, focusing on Maggie and wailing it for all it was worth...

"Shot through the heart, and you're to blame...!!"

And just as rehearsed and wicked as before, the rest of the Lady Grey's troops jumped in, "Darlin', you give love a bad name!"

"I play my part and you play your games...!!"

"You give love a bad name!"

Even twenty yards away, Maggie's look of horror was unmistakable. Corry just reveled in it, and he didn't fail to take notice of her running up to the quarterdeck to speak to the immaculately turned out Kelley. Not more than ten seconds later, Scotty's communicator beeped. "Aye, Sean?"

Sean sounded downright pissed off as he answered, "Pipe down over there! You have Maggie crying, and dammit, the race hasn't even started!"

Scott smirked, devilishly, glad that Kelley couldn't see him where he was back with the rest of the crew. "Did we? Give the lass our sincere apologies."

"Sincere, right."


Corry meandered over, leaning over his roommate's shoulder. "Hey, Sean."

"Corry! Dammit, what're you trying to do? Wage psychological warfare on my crew or something with that screeching voice?"

"We're just having some fun," Corrigan replied, a very study in nonchalance. "We'll quit."

"...well, good."

Scotty shook his head. He knew Sean just wasn't going to be expecting what was in store for the Queen Mary, and in that sense he felt bad. Kelley wasn't a bad person, just desperately petty on occasion, and he really didn't deserve near the grief certain members of his crew did. "About the race..."

"What about it?" the irritated cadet asked.

"No hard feelings, all right?"

Kelley took a moment to reply, but when he did, it was even more obvious that he didn't have a clue. Arrogance seeped into his every word. "'Course not. Good luck, Lady Grey."

"Same to you," Corry said. After Scotty closed the communicator, he added, "You're gonna need it."




"And we're back! If you're just joining us this fine day, welcome to the exclusive coverage of the Starfleet Engineering Academy's tall ships race, brought to you exclusively by TNN... the Terran News Network. Standing here with me is the visionary behind this event, Professor Richard Barrett, Commander in Starfleet and the head of the history department here at the Academy." Chip Wagner's teeth were pure white, his brown hair was brilliantly combed and highlighted, his tan was the perfect shade, and his voice had all of the smoothness of fine silk. He was the shit. "Tell me, Professor Barrett, where did you get this unique idea?"

Barrett clasped his hands behind his back. Behind him, the crew of the Grey was hanging over the side of their ship, waving and trying to get on camera. Off to the right, just in view, the Queen Mary's crew was doing the same. "Well, this is my last year here at the Academy, and since I've decided to retire, I wanted to 'go out with a bang' as it were."

"Wonderful." Chip flashed a smile and the camera man had to turn down the gain on his camera so as not to blind the audience. "Now you say that every cadet in your senior class spent half of the year working on these ships?"

Barrett nodded. "They did. I'm very proud of the effort they've put forth."

"But why sailing ships? These engineering cadets will be out in space onboard Starfleet's finest vessels... why not have them work on something more modern?" Now Wagner was playing the serious, interested reporter.

"I am a history professor," Barrett pointed out, ignoring the shouts of 'Mom!' and 'Dad!' behind him on the two remaining ships in harbor. "Most of the cadets have very little insight into the foundations that Starfleet was built on... that of the world's Navies. To give them a better appreciation for the labor that went into building a fleet of ships, I gave them a single vessel and a budget to work with, as well as a material. I believe they have a better understanding of the pure hard work that our history originated from."

"True, true." Chip turned and looked at the ships in a manner that screamed 'trying too hard to care'. "These last two ships, why are they being held back?"

"Handicap for the race." Barrett looked as well, smiling a half-smile at the waiting vessels. "These are the two largest ships, and they're rated the fastest. In order to be more fair to the other racers, we've held them back."

"What can you tell us about them?"

"Well, that vessel over there," Barrett said, pointing to the Queen Mary, "is the Queen Mary, under the command of senior cadet Sean Kelley. She's a steel ship, a square-rigger... called that because most of her sails are rectangular in shape. Her length is at one hundred and eight feet overall, and her beam is at twenty-six feet. She's the official ship of Team B." The camera panned elegantly over the ship as she sat in harbor, waiting to start her race.

Chip nodded seriously, shifting his stance so his back was to the camera. "And the other?"

Barrett smiled. "The schooner Lady Grey, captained by Andrew Corrigan, likewise a senior cadet. She's had somewhat of a rough time, but her crew's turned her into quite a vessel. She's mostly made of oak, one hundred and fifty-seven feet sparred length, and twenty-six feet at her beam... she's fore and aft rigged, see the difference? All of her sails are lined along her centerline, while the Queen Mary's are across the beam."

"Both fine ships," Chip Wagner commented, passing by the historical allusion without realizing it. He flashed another smile back at the camera, once again almost blinding people. "Now that you have the basics, we're going to check in with the Belfast Harbor Master, who's counting down the last few moments until these ships are given the go. Andrea, over to you."

Andrea Whiting smiled at her camera, trying to stand onboard the small power cutter sitting between the tugs that would pull the Lady Grey and the Queen Mary out of the Lough. Her voice sounded more like syrup that anything, and not the really prime stuff... the sickly sweet stuff. "Thank you, Chippy. Here we have the master of the harbor, Gregory Jackson. Mr. Jackson, how much time do we have left?"

"Don't bother me, woman, I'm busy, cancha see?"

Not put off, Andrea smiled even sweeter. "How do you think the race will turn out?"

Sigh. A beat, and the grizzled old sailor looked back at her. "I think yew better shut up an' let me pay attention to the-- dammit!" Grabbing the pull cord on the horn, he gave it three sharp bursts.

"And there we have it! The racers are officially given the go!" Andrea giggled and bounced up and down. "Back to you, Chippy."

'Chippy' pulled his tongue back into his mouth, but not quickly enough to miss being caught on camera. Barrett was completely ignoring him as he watched the tugs pull the last two ships out of harbor to the elated cries of their respective crews.

Clearing his throat and turning red under his immaculate tan, Chip concluded, "We'll be checking in on this race over the next two weeks. Tune in for a special at 2100 GMT for more information! This is Chip Wagner for TNN, signing off."



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Old November 14 2008, 06:21 PM   #74
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Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part IV, Chapter 1

--


Getting the cannons onboard the Lady Grey had been difficult at best. Not only were twenty-four guns, plus ammo, powder and accessories hard to hide in the first place (thank God for storage rental), but getting them from the storage building to the ship without being spotted took some clever thinking.

And some very smooth transporter operation.

Scotty grinned as he paced the gundeck, stopping every once in a while to make sure the twenty-four pounders weren't going to come loose and knock a hole in the schooner. It had been his quick calculating and even quicker hands that had allowed the cannons to be transported onboard. No easy feat... the design team had managed to commandeer the cargo transport platform on campus as a supposed experiment, relieved the volunteer cadet on duty, and then rolled the guns in at three in the morning.

Six at a time, the transporter tied into the satcom sensors, fine tuned to constantly check even the slightest movement of the ship, and he had transported those cannons onboard. By the time 0600 rolled around and the last four eighteen pound deck guns were stowed in the cargo hold, he was so worn out from the fine adjustments that taking a nap down in the fo'c'sle had been a requirement.

But now, into the evening, sleep was pretty far from his mind. It probably had to do with the fact that the Lady Grey was on her way out into the ocean, and she was moving under his feet in a motion he still wasn't used to, even after a few days of sail training in the Irish Sea where he'd been absolutely bombarded with a new set of skills. They hadn't even rounded Ireland yet... if this was typical of life onboard, then he would have a Hell of a time when they were into the Atlantic proper and facing more serious wave action.

"...hull speed. We'll have to really make some time if we're going to catch up to her after we round the marker."

Albright's voice disturbed Scott away from his thoughts, and he stopped pacing the gundeck long enough to look back and ask, "What're ye plannin'?"

Jansson frowned briefly, stepping down the way. "We're trying to make an educated guess at the Queen Mary's speed and our own. Trying to guess where we'll catch up to 'em, mostly."

"I think we'll end up catching them well into our return trip. She's got the advantage over us while she's going with the wind, but not against it." Joe crossed his arms, leaning on one of his guns. "We're already catching the Barely Afloat, and the Queen Mary's falling further behind us."

"Barely Afloat." Scott couldn't resist a snicker at that. Team F's ship was more of a boat -- fiberglass -- and, well, barely afloat. Her crew had all been terrific, though, genuinely nice lads and lasses. "How far's the Queen Mary?"

"Two miles. She'll never catch us, not how well we're tacking right now. Wind's out of the southwest, and Corry's got us moving really really good." Jerry grinned, brightly. "You trying to hide down here? We could always use a lookout up on the mast, you know."

Scotty shook his head, crossing his arms. "I can barely stand on deck, nevermind the climb up there."

"I think you're just a chicken," Corry said, bounding down the steps and joining the little group. He smiled, so downright happy that it was hard not to smile back just because. "It's not that bad. Hell, I'd even go with you."

They couldn't be serious about this. Scott's eyebrows went up and he tried to keep the uneasiness he felt suddenly from showing. "I think I'll pass on this one."

"You were up there when she was in the slip. What's the difference?"

"She's movin', that's the difference!"

"It's a great view. Just like flying."

Scotty took an involuntary step backwards, running into one of the cannons. This little joke was starting to go too far. "No, I'm stayin' down here. I dinna need t' end up a splatter on deck."




"C'mon, you're halfway there." Corry was actually being encouraging. It was odd, since most of the time he would be teasing his best friend, instead of trying to keep him from being completely terrified. "Just one line at a time."

The ropes were moving, the ship was moving, everything was moving except Scott. He was too busy clinging to the ratlines to move; eyes squeezed closed, knuckles white, breath coming in shaky gasps. He wasn't afraid of heights, not in the least -- hang gliding was far more dangerous and a whole lot higher. But the constant motion and the way the ropes felt so unsteady happened to be too much for him. Nevermind the seasickness, that just topped off the misery. "Bastard."

"I know," Corrigan said, balancing easily beside his fear-frozen roomie. He decided it'd be better not to mention to Scotty that everyone who wasn't working below was watching; might end up making him even more nervous. "Now look, you helped run these lines yourself. They're not going to give on you. Just don't look down, pick your foot up, and take another step."

Well, it was up or down at this point, and since down was even more nerve-wracking, Scott chose up. Still gripping onto the shrouds with the strength of desperation, he pulled himself up to the next foot rope.

Corry followed, being as careful as he could not to jostle the lines any worse than usual. "See? Now we're over halfway."

"Never again."

"Eh, you say that now, but I think you'll be fine when you get there."

Scotty whimpered and went up another rung. "Makin' me more seasick, that's all this is doin'."

Corrigan chuckled, "This is a nice, calm day. It could be a lot worse."

"Shut up." Another rung, another pause, another grapple with visions of death and chaos.

It went on like that, as the lines got closer together and Corry had to abandon his roommate to climb ahead. To Scotty's credit, he didn't panic when left to fend for himself; by then, it was a little easier to climb and forget about the ocean, deck and people below. When he finally made it up onto the small platform high on the mainmast, he was trembling and green in the face, but still alive and in one piece.

Corry leaned back against the mast on one side, bracing himself by holding onto the edges of the platform. The tops of the masts moved a lot more than the deck below, and the last thing he wanted was to be pitched over the side. "You look kinda like a Vulcan, what with that complexion."

"Hnn," Scott answered, dazedly, grabbing onto the mast and clinging to it like he had the ropes. Getting down from there didn't even cross his mind -- if it had, he might have started sobbing.

Corry didn't comment. Better to let the other cadet work it out... now that he was up there, he'd be all right. Might just take a little time.

The sun was nice and bright, and aside for a few traces of high clouds, it was clear. Almost like the powers that be wanted to prove they really were under way, leaving behind the rainy and overcast demeanor of Belfast. It wasn't hard to imagine what it would have felt like for the sailors who used to do this all of the time... the world looked a whole lot bigger from onboard a ship at sea, then it did orbiting above.

Off of their stern, only visible now by the tiny white spots of her sails, the Queen Mary sailed. Closer aft was the Barely Afloat, having saluted Team C when they passed with honest good nature. And ahead, somewhere, were the rest of the ships in the race. They had a Hell of a head start, but Corry knew that the Lady Grey would catch up. Even if she was disqualified, she would be in the lead when she was.

The sails billowed in the wind, and he had no trouble sitting comfortably even at her angle of heel. This was his heritage, afterall... salt water and waves. Onboard his own schooner.

Smiling a proud half-smile, Corry tossed a glance at Scott, who was still clinging to the mast. He didn't look quite so frantic now; not so green around the gills, even though he still hadn't dared to open his eyes and take a look out from his perch. Corry kept his tone down, hoping not to startle the other cadet. "Getting any better?"

Scott nodded, not trusting himself to give a verbal answer. After a moment or two, he chanced a look out over the water.

There, that wasn't so bad. Taking a deep breath, Scotty fixed his gaze on the horizon, a trace of a smile crossing his face as he spotted the Queen Mary. "Back there aways, isn't she?"

"Yep. She'll have the advantage whenever the wind's on her stern, but she can't take going against it like we can." Corry grinned, relaxing a little now that he didn't have to worry about his best friend panicking up there. "I told you it was a nice view."

"Hm," was Scott's noncommittal response. But he gradually let go of the mast and braced himself like Corry, looking over the bow of the ship.

It was blue on blue for eternity.

"Plan on staying up here for sunset? I don't think anyone'd mind our absence."

"Depends on whether I care to try climbin' down in the dark."

"Sun doesn't set for another hour."

"I'll think on it."

Scott did think on it, but only in the back of his mind. He was more interested right then in the way the wind danced in the sails ahead of him on the foremast, and the way that the light of the sun caught on the canvas. The motion of the schooner didn't seem so jarring... the sounds of the crew working below were distant. There was a good, stiff breeze, and that was really the only thing up there with the two cadets.

Nothing but the wind.

Scott could have said he had plenty of experience with wind, because hang gliding depended on it in some way or another, but on the mainmast of the Lady Grey it was more tangible. Like he could catch it, and in a sense, that was exactly what the ship was doing.

So he moved with her, rocked with the motion of the ship, losing some of the queasiness so long as he kept his eyes on the horizon. Like a fixed part of the rigging, he swayed, listening to the sound of the sails, the sound of the water far below, the wind, the ropes as they creaked.

The breeze softened with the coming of night, so subtly that neither Corry nor Scotty really thought about it. They noticed it on a more primitive level, lost in their own thoughts or lack of thoughts, not giving it conscious effort. The Queen Mary didn't exist, nothing existed but them, the schooner and the reddening sunset. It lasted an eternity and went far too quickly, breathtaking out there where there wasn't a single soul. The slow decent of the sun, the way it grew and turned to fire red as it fell, the light flaring on the wispy clouds in orange and gold.

Caught in a perfect moment of life, as the sun vanished from the sky, the two cadets on the mast forgot to breathe.
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Old November 14 2008, 07:01 PM   #75
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part IV, Chapter 1

Very nice!

Nice to see you have competing news outlets--I'd figure TNN competes against the Federation News Service?

And I just can't wait to see what happens--let's hope that BOTH ships aren't armed, or all hell could really break loose!
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