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I couldn't think of anything worse. They've been shifting people over to the Temper system a lot lately.

When did you actually get back? I received a request from Commodore Parks to return to duty yesterday. Dodds started to say something, then stopped walking. Estelle studied him for a moment as he looked about. Dodds sighed, then shook his head.

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I have to make amends. Hardly a day goes by where I don't think about what happened. Estelle said nothing, but looked about the campus. She soon turned back to him, now appearing a little sympathetic. Estelle said nothing more on the subject and the pair continued walking. They both knew that, whilst he was a good pilot, Dodds had a tendency to be reckless, and it was that recklessness which from time to time led to undesirable consequences.

Estelle began to point out some of the buildings on the campus: the housing blocks for the on site staff; a number of research buildings that they were not authorised to enter; a large lecture theatre, where they would attend the ATAF presentation; and a few large, square buildings that housed the simulators.

Estelle chuckled.

Premier article - La demeure des sources 35

Estelle stopped walking. Dodds' initial belief that Estelle was about to regale him with some useless trivia about the enormous battleship was quashed by the look on the woman's face. It hasn't been seen or heard from for months! The battleship? What happened? Dodds noted how she doubled back and skirted around the touchy subject of his court-martial.

Though she had not been on trial herself, he knew the many hours sitting in the courtroom, delivering evidence and being cross examined, was not an experience she had relished, wanted reminding of, or ever wanted to go through again. Did someone just take it out of dry dock? From what I've heard it was a hijacking. They came to a tall, circular fountain, water spraying out of the top. Estelle and Dodds joined a few people sat around it, enjoying a mid-morning break from their work, reading and chatting to one another. The two CSN pilots made sure they put a good amount of space either side of them so they could talk with a little more privacy.

Were there any witnesses or survivors? He was captain at the time. The pod didn't have any food, water or medical supplies, and the stasis capsules had been smashed up.

The Weekend Jolt

Hawke himself had been badly wounded and suffering from blood loss. He was lucky to be alive. Though he had never laid eyes on the vessel himself, having only seen it in archive footage and photographs, he knew enough about the Confederation Stellar Navy's flagship to know that the event of its theft was quite worrisome. Dragon was the largest and most powerful starship in existence, second to none. Owing to its size, firepower, starfighter and troop capacities, its mere arrival within a battle zone had been known to cause the opposing forces to make a hasty retreat or even surrender.

Attempting to fight it was usually never worthwhile. It was so heavily armoured and shielded that the best defence against it was to be nowhere near it. If a battle was unavoidable, other capital ships, such as frigates and carriers, stood a much better chance of survival due to their own increased capabilities, though it would still be a somewhat one-sided battle. Dodds knew of only one other ship that stood a chance of taking on Dragon : Minotaur , flagship of the Imperial Naval Forces.


He recalls a large boarding party appearing out of nowhere and storming all the major divisions simultaneously. Dragon was operating with a full complement, but they were completely overcome. Hawke believes they were in jump space at the time, so no-one is sure just how accurate his story is. No, that's They could have stranded both themselves and Dragon in the middle of nowhere. Estelle nodded. Exactly how did they get aboard in the first place? Who were these people? They concluded that it may have been a faction from the Imperial civil war, though given Dragon 's almost legendary status throughout the galaxy, even that seemed rather far-fetched.

After sometime, Estelle suggested to Dodds that they should leave the fountain. They started walking along the brick pathways, Dodds noting the sizeable wall that ran the entire perimeter of the campus, effectively shutting it off from the outside world. Though he had only been at the research centre a little under an hour, Dodds had counted no less than ten pairs of armed personnel patrolling the grounds.

The young pilot said nothing as they continued to walk, still trying to put together the pieces of a large and complicated puzzle. Estelle had had her own brushes with Hawke, either as a result of her own actions or because of those under her command. This is a fantastic opportunity we've been granted and we should all act like true professionals. Dodds decided it was time to let the topic lie.

I spoke to him before you arrived. He seems a little Dodds got the impression she was still trying to figure the man out for herself. He used to fly with a group called the Copper Beetles. His team have been shuffled around. They assigned him to the Knights and the others were transferred to Earth. Estelle shook her head. He's been with us for three weeks and that's all I've managed to get out of him. He's nice though, if a bit grumpy. Likes to read, too. The pair had walked a fair way and Estelle suggested they head back.

Dodds asked Estelle what she knew about the ATAF project, but it seemed that her knowledge on the subject was as good as his. Returning to the dormitory, they found that Enrique, Kelly and Chaz were back in their original places. The accommodation of the campus was better than Dodds was used to: the dormitory was bright and spacious and, from the looks of things, sported much cleaner and improved washing facilities. He grabbed his bag from the bed and began to sort through his belonging, pulling things out and dumping them onto the mattress. Estelle cleared her throat in an authoritative manner.

She shuffled through the papers in her hands and then addressed the group as a whole,. We've still got a lot to do before tomorrow morning. The simulator results are extremely positive and we're all doing much better than we were yesterday on the advanced courses, but there's still room for improvement.

We can get times down, minimise ally and ammunition losses Kelly, could you stop writing for just one second until I have finished speaking, please? Kelly put down her digital journal, pushing it down the bed and out of reach for good measure, before giving the first lieutenant her undivided attention. Dodds feigned an irritation around his eye, looking away from his team mates as he saw Estelle's domineering side starting to creep in. Although Estelle liked to treat those in her command as friends, she was never afraid to pull rank to get the point across.

Things had not changed much with her over the past five months either then. Enrique groaned and looked to the windows, at the warm afternoon sun that was streaming on through. Enrique will go with you and give you a hand setting up. Enrique stifled another groan and pulled himself to his feet. Estelle flourished a red pen. Estelle held a bemused look as the big man hurried towards Dodds.

Behind them, Enrique and Chaz hurried along and the four bustled out the dormitory, past Estelle who watched them go with a flabbergasted expression on her face. T he simulator suite to which Dodds was escorted was contained within a large square glass building, its central expansive floor home to a large number of the systems.

Each simulator itself was self contained, to guard against any visual distractions. The interior of each was an exact replica of the designated craft, with readouts and consoles all working as expected. For the most part, the shiny white suite floor was devoid of anything except for the modules, whilst a high gallery of observation rooms and offices ran around the perimeter. Staff milled around inside, performing various tasks. After explaining their requirements to a staff member, Enrique and Dodds made their way over to a TAF module.

Dodds sat down in the seat and buckled himself in, the screens inside powering up to display a convincing astral scene all around him. The HUD activated and control consoles lit up as they prepared themselves. A sense of familiarity came back to Dodds.

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He reached forward and expertly configured the fighter's HUD to the way he preferred, before informing the simulation operator that he was ready to begin. To his dismay, Dodds found that he was, just as Estelle had predicted, somewhat rusty on the simulator. The months away from duty had led to him forgetting some of the more intricate principles of space flight and combat, and he found himself stalling from time to time.

But he focused and an hour later he was well on the way to returning to his original form.

He embarked on a series of courses, each designed to work on various aspects of his skills, from flight handling to basic target practice. After sometime, Enrique, Kelly and Chaz joined him on a simple training mission, working as a team to fulfil various objectives. Dodds discovered during the course of the exercise that Chaz's alleged silence made the transition to the cockpit, and whilst the others would engage in all kinds of genial banter and teasing, Chaz's voice lent itself only when it was required of him.