Excerpt from The End of Childhood first draft

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Sorry I've been so long between postings here. Been trying to come up with something unique for it, and thus far, failing.


We are linked for Vector, Squadron Commander.

It was hard not to simply assume control of the squadron. Asto was a better pilot and navigator than Davrilo, the Squadron Commander, and everyone knew it. Including Davrilo. But it wasn't about who was the best navigator, it was about responsibility for the results. Unless and until Davrilo delegated control to his operations officer, Asto was along for the ride.

Operations! The Squadron is yours for Vector. Adhere to the master count from Group.

Adhere to the master count, aye! All Elements, transfer control to Fulda for Vector!

Technically, it was an Interstitial Vector, but the phraseology was time-honored. Interstitial Vector as a practical mass-use technology was less than sixty years old - and the service he was a part of had a history more than thirty prime times that. Nor was said wording wrong, simply imprecise in this case. All units confirm Interstitial Vector availability. That was a required differentiation in the ritual - an Interstitial Vector required capability that a traditional Vector did not.

The flood of acknowledgements came back from the squadron's eight City-class carriers and their lesser escorts, mostly small cruiser and destroyer profile ships of one size or another. Not that City-class carriers were major vessels, but their primary design function was getting a load of Starbirds into and out of combat. They weren't supposed to mix it up with other Convoy hulls in direct beam or missile combat. Some Tactical Space squadrons had a sub- or pocket battleship assigned, but not this one. The feed from Group was steadily counting down the seconds until the planned jump that would put them in position for their assigned targets for the assault Discontinuity in fifteen - MARK!

Even the Group - sixty squadrons - was only a small part of this assault. The idea was to destroy the demonic ability to make war, and intelligence from the Merlon's Eyes and Fingers had been definite on the point that all rationality aside, the demons had almost all of their industrial base in this one Fractal, labelled 'Industry' in the best imaginative tradition of all militaries. The Empire didn't believe in love taps - it would swing the most massive hammer it could, subject to the limitation of not wanting to get in each other's way. There was a full Field Corps - a fifth of troops - allotted to the initial space-borne assault, and another Field Corps of Planetary Surface would make the initial landings, followed up by as many more as necessary. Industry Fractal was a massive domain, nearly ten minutes across at the thickest point, and had more demons living in it than many major habitats back home - tenths at least. It was one of the most important demonic holdings, and key to the demonic empire, having permanent gates to many other demonic habitats.

Asto carefully balanced the energies that the various ships of the squadron would be contributing to the movement as the countdown from Group passed ten. The squadron was in a formation better than five ithirds across - not as big as the mass haulers Grace had learned to handle once upon a time, but still with significant control delay issues and increased uncertainty in the result. The squadron was a couple sixties of discrete units, even with the Starbird fighters still tucked in the launch bays. They were mass-linked for Vector, which meant they would jump as a unit, but it also mean that if he or one of the other squadron pilots blew it, the entire squadron might emerge in the middle of the fractal or overlapped with another squadron.

The counter ticked under five, and Asto locked down the contributions from the outermost of the squadron's elements, mostly destroyer profile vessels that looked like missiles with four outsize fins each. Roughly an ifourth in length in one of four sizes, carrying crews of thirty to sixty each, destroyer profile ships were the largest vessels that did not carry native auxiliaries of their own.

At two, the parameters for the jump were fixed enough to lock down the energy requirements from the small cruisers, vaguely whale-shaped, but more than twice the size of any blue whale ever, two ifourths or more in length.

One. The eight carriers at the core would carry the balance of the energy load. They were the biggest ships, so they had the most variability in their discharge capacitors. The requirements curve and the availability curve were matching within a few square, and the balance of expected difference was within the capabilities of Fulda alone to correct at the critical moment.

Forty iprime. The redband stress spiked, and the gravband eased. If redband kept spiking, hitting the target at the chosen velocity would be outside the capabilities of Fulda alone. The price of linked Vectoring - sometimes the metrics ganged up to push things outside bounds. Even Shalmirane was nearly an ithird distant, which meant Asto had to set it ahead of time and hope the curve matched, but Diaspar and Lys were nearly as close.

Twenty iprime. The redband stress eased, and grayband rose, compensating for gravband. Just enough time to reset to the prior settings within the time constraints. The requirements curve fell gracefully to match the availability curve and he throttled down Fulda's discharge capacitors just in time for...


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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on October 20, 2020 12:03 PM.

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