Star Chamber
Chapter 22: Montana!

Copyright© 2019 by A Carpenter's Son

Tuesday at the Shelter:

The General had a quiet morning. Then around 10:30, Frank emerged. Lucy showed up at 11:11 and Curtis at Noon. They had all done really good on the GED testing and many of the brothers and sisters were with Father John, Jenny, and Ivan and Wilbur. They were looking at the old building near West Seattle Central. It had been a hotel at one time then turned into apartments. There were seven or eight stories and close to four hundred units.

“When is the UW Representative going to show up at the school?” The General asked.

“Not till next week sir,” Frank said as he ate his second helping of scrambled eggs, sausage, and hash browns for lunch.

The General used the three as sounding boards for his planning questions. Just a lazy day at the shelter.

A man with a cowboy hat came in just before 2 PM, “I’m looking for the Space Corps, primarily the Space Cadets.”

“You found them. A cup of coffee?” The General asked, “Your name?”

“Ted Kennady. I’m the Vice Principle for the Conrad High School in Conrad Montana, home of the Broncos.” Ted smiled, “And you are General Franks, and you are Major Taylor, and you Lieutenant Lucy Taylor and you figured out the Curtis Kiss. OMG, I have the shivers. You are my heroes!

The General was laughing, “How can we help you, Mr. Kennady?”

“Have you ever thought of setting up a company of Spaceships in Montana?” Ted asked.

Frank and the General met with their eyes, “Start with a platoon.”

“Still close enough to be part of our Battalion,” Shared Curtis.

“They could join with the Spokane Platoon,” Frank said.

“We have six 335’s and two 445’s coming tomorrow.”

“Yes, they would only be ten to twelve minutes away. They could cover a large central area,” Said Lucy.

“Ten minutes? I left Conrad at 6:00 A.M. yesterday thirty-two hours to get here,” Ted was beside himself.

“Google Earth says Conrad is only 483 miles from here.” Lucy said, “Ted sir, we circle the globe in under an hour with our 335.”

“Are you up for it Major?” General Franks asked.

“Yes Sir!” Frank giggled.

“We have a problem; the state is in terrible shape after the Virus last year and the powers in charge are cutting everything they can. Our transportation costs are the highest in the country. So instead of cutting them partway, they totally cut them. We either home school a lot of our kids or we somehow make this work. We have a fifteen-year-old that skipped a grade so this year he will be a sophomore. Last year he led our high school to the State Championships and won 28 to 26. He lives forty miles away. Right now, the best option is to home school him along with several other players. Good players, starters. That ends our football success. For us, it’s like the Seahawks to Seattle.”

“Has there been any discussion regarding the Space Cadet Program?” General Franks asked.

Ted reached into his carrier that he brought, “I have ten families with teenage sons and daughters that believe their children would jump at the chance of flying Spaceships.” Ted laid on the table fifteen completed packets.

“The young men and women have not signed, but everything else is filled out?” Frank asked.

“We didn’t want to give them hope until I talked with you,” Ted said.

“So, the parents approve even before the kids asked?” Frank said.

“We are a small town in Montana. Everyone has your pictures on the wall Major Frank and I’m pretty sure the girls all have a Lieutenant Lucy Picture. You guys are what everyone is talking about. Our little city has gone nuts over Spaceships. There is even a model of a 335 in the park,” Ted smiled, “One other thing, we have a vacant church with a big parking lot. Would that work for a Cadet Center? Two blocks from the high school.”

“Yes!” The General smiled, “How much is the rent?”

“The town owns it and will provide rent-free.”

Another man came through the door.

“Hi, Jimmy. What’ve you got for us?”

“We had an order scheduled for tomorrow morning, but I already asked for it off, so I have for you six 335’s and two 445’s. I keep telling all those in finishing to treat you guys right the planet you save may be ours.”

“Jimmy, you are our favorite deliveryman.” Lucy was laughing.

“Where are these fine ships going?” Jimmy asked as General Franks signed the receiving docs.

“Montana.” Frank said as he looked up accommodations in Conrad, “Ted please call the number for the bed and breakfast.”

Ted looked at General Franks and got a smile in return.

“Lucy how many Beds?” Frank asked, “For three nights.”

“How many beds are there?” Lucy asked.

“Margo, how many beds do you have available?” Ted asked with the phone to ear, “In a snowstorm, you accommodated twelve.”

Lucy held up ten fingers.

“Can you make ten work?” Ted asked, “Can you give Bruce a call at the school? Tell him we are on the way. Put my name on the bill. The school district has $17,000 left in the transportation budget. I’m pretty sure I can get it approved.”

Lucy and Curtis went over to the printer and made a copy of nine names. “Lieutenant, you start at the bottom and I’ll start from the top. Meet you in the middle,” Lucy asked.

Frank called up the number for Bellevue, “Hello this is Major Frank.” [Hello, this is the Bellevue Cadet Center. Please leave a message:] “This is Major Frank. Your replacement 445 has arrived. We will be there on Saturday for a training session. I will bring another 445 plus the one that arrived today. Plan on an instructor for each ship. Count seats and fill empty seats with as many parents as possible. See you at 8:00 AM Saturday.”

Frank Stood up. “Shall we go to Montana? General Sir, by your leave Sir.” The three young officers saluted the General.

As the General returned the salute, he said, “Have Fun!” Ted followed twelve cadets out the door.

As Ted Kennady sat in the pilot’s seat of the Bell, he felt his heart.

“Are you alright Sir?” Lucy asked as she sat in the left seat. Frank was in the right seat looking on with concern.

Ted took a deep breath, “My heart is going a hundred beats per minute.”

“Is that alright Sir?” Frank asked.

“I’ve been a long-distance runner all my life. Never been this excited since I won my first Marathon.”

Frank giggled, “Bell pre-flight check.”

“All systems go sir.”

“Anything on Radar?”

“Yes sir, the NEWS ship is coming in.”

Frank picked up the Mic, “Tina in the NEWS. This is Major Frank Taylor.”

“Hello, Major Taylor. Anything going on today?”

“We are setting up a new Cadet Center in Conrad Montana.”

“Can we join you?” Tina asked, “And film it?”

Frank looked to Ted and got a nod, “We have a green light if you want to join us.”

“We will fall in behind,” Scott said.

“Bell we should have eleven ships behind us. Is that correct?”

“That is correct Sir.”

“Ted, tell Bell the destination and best speed.”

“Bell we are going to Conrad Montana please make the best speed.” Ted stated., “OMG!”

When they got to twenty miles Frank picked up the mic, “Tina & Scott. I’m going to have the group pull a slow loop. Can you video it so we can see how it looks?”

“Yes, we can,” Scott answered.

“Attention check your seat harnesses. Prepare for Loop A-3.” Five seconds went by, “Attention loop to the left, 3, 2, 1, NOW!” The eleven ships handled by the Cadets did a slow roll to the left. Stopping at the “9” position on the clock, then the “12” position and last the “3” position then returning to flat and level at the “6” position.

Eleven ships pulled off the stunt. When looked at on video, “We can do better.” Was the opinion of the group.

“At least we had no crashes,” Curtis said

“No, we didn’t have any crashes.” Frank and everybody giggled.

Ted’s favorite term seemed to be “OMG!”

“Mr. Kennady, you never did that as a kid with your Ford or Chevy?” Lucy asked.

“Circles, but never 360-degree loops,” Ted said.

“Frank can do circles,” Lucy said.

“Not today Lieutenant.” Frank was patting his stomach.

“Lucy.”

“Yes, Frank?”

“I called up Iceman at Lockheed yesterday afternoon. I asked him about stopping. He told me to have the AI Flair the ship and then put the ship into reverse. It should reduce the stopping distance by two thirds.”

“We’ll have to practice that. What can we do for the 775’s?” Lucy asked.

“He’s working on it.” Frank smiled. “By the way, the flair does not work in space.”

“Have you tried flipping around in a 180 degree and applying thrust,” Ted asked.

“Yes, he did Mr. Kennady. You don’t want to do that after lunch or breakfast.” Lucy said.

“Momma Jenny said she only wanted all of us girls around her when she had Baby Gaia.”

“Let me know, the guys can always practice loops,” Frank said.

Ted had never had such a wonderful time as he had flying back to Conrad. Frank’s question about him looking for a formula that they could use regarding stopping distances totally floored him. For the last five minutes of the flight, they were talking about graduate-level college physics. Ted, being an educator was most impressed with these young people.

When they landed there were ten young men playing basketball on the court outside the High School. Sonny Montana was sitting over in the corner with a half dozen people around him all looking at his knee. Ted parked Bell ten feet off the court facing it. As soon as it touched Lucy was running towards the obvious hurt young man. Ted was a few seconds behind her. The twins also set down on some burnt grass and were running at full speed. They both had excellent performances in the battles and were now E-4’s.

Lucy took charge and with Curtis, Bill and a few others along with the twins did the healing on the young man’s knee. This took about fifteen minutes.

Sonny Montana wanted to try it out.

“Sonny go about 80% save that 100% for tomorrow,” Lucy warned.

“Yes, Lieutenant.” Sonny made the jump shot and had cleared the concrete by a foot. When he turned around everyone could have counted all his teeth. That smile sparked a cheer that echoed off the hills. “Lieutenant Lucy, why are you guys here?”

“To establish a Space Cadet Center. Do you want to be a Space Cadet?” Lucy asked the good-looking young man. Already he was 6’ 3”, A solid Farm Boy build from lifting tens of thousands of hay bales.

“Do I have to give up football?” Sonny asked.

“From what I overheard; this will help make your football possible.”

“Sign me up. I’ll convince my parents somehow.

“They already filled out the paperwork, all we need is your signature.”

Sonny stopped, then he laughed, “Do you think my having 25 pictures of you guys and all the spaceships pinned to my walls in my room might have had something to do with this?”

They went inside the auditorium. There was a line of tables, Lucy sat down and motioned for Sonny to sit across from her. She handed him the packet that his parents had filled out and signed. Sonny signed the place on the last page for him, “I’m going to get paid?”

Lucy slid a pay scale in front of Sonny. $866.50 was circled, “We are part-time reservists. It is expected that we are between 10 and 17 years of age. Eight years old with permission and an interview. During the school year, 10 to 20 hours per week is expected. Come to meetings, training, and volunteer for everything and you will stand out and get promoted. I make this per month. $1,894.” Lucy said.

“Holy Shit!” Was silently whispered by Sonny.

Tests were put off to the following week. For a school with 400 students with 10% of them were participating in the training. Often Ted Kennady or the Principle rode along during the training. They saw firsthand that their students would come out ready, willing, and able to handle these ships in a battle. One of the parents thought a million miles was way too excessive for a certification. Lucy was talking with him when Frank intervened, “Your name please.” Frank asked.

“Bruce Kenny.” The man said.

“Your son is also Bruce Kenny?”

“Yes, he has gotten into trouble a few times.”

“He’s on the list for us to work on getting him a Certification for the 335 before we leave here. He’s been placed in the top five for certifications. He’ll be going full time with the plan in place.

“Lieutenant Lucy, do we have a ship available?

“The Bell is sir.” Lucy smiled.

Sir, Mr. Kenny do you have twenty or thirty minutes?”

“Yes sir.”

“Ted Kennady are you still here?” Frank asked.

“Yes Sir.”

“Mr. Principle too, please follow us.”

Ted made sure everyone was seated and fastened in.

“Remind them we do have a bathroom on board. This ship is made by Boeing and the bathroom is very similar to the one you’ll find on a 747.”

“Bell, are the skies clear?”

“No Captain, there is a satellite directly overhead. Nothing else.”

“Let’s proceed to fly around the Earth.”

“Above the equator or circular around the globe,” Bell asked.

“Circular around the globe,” Frank directed. Head East.

“Yes Sir.”

“You want to tell Bell we want to go to 20 miles up as quickly as possible.”

“Sir my programming is limited to 50% of thrust. You are clear to go to 100% of thrust.”

“Thank you, Bell.”

“You are welcome, Captain.”

“It feels like we are floating.” Mr. Kenny was sitting behind Frank.

“We are traveling at 50,679 miles per hour.”

“Oh my!”

“We’re twenty miles up.” The principal said. The man had a cup of coffee. He held it up, “As good as the view!”

“Yes!”

“What a beautiful planet.” Another said.

After twelve and a half minutes, “Passengers please return to your seats and fasten the harness.” Bell said.

Reverse thrusters for one minute. A few sparks flew by the windows but nothing like the shuttles or capsules before them.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Thrusters off.

We saw another 445 coming down a mile away, “Shall we race?” Ted asked.

“Absolutely not. Safety is number one. Make sure we do not run into it.” Frank said, “Bell is the 445 to our right on the same trajectory as we are on?”

“Yes, I would recommend a ten-second burse of reverse thrusters.”

The Bell backed off about a football field, “445 on our left, thank you.”

“445 on our right, you get to buy the first 7up.”

“Who is in our 445 on our left?”

“Major Frank Taylor.”

“Hi cousin, Corporal Bill D. Taylor here sir. Who’s your pilot? Ours is Cadet Montana.”

“Our pilot is Ted Kennady.”

“Look at that Ted!” Frank said pointing at the scanner.

Ten 335’s were right behind the two 445’s coming in.

“Mr. Kenny, I bet you a nickel your son is in one of those 335’s.”

The next morning Mr. Kenny handed a half-ounce gold coin to Frank, “Add that to your budget. I drove my truck home while my sons flew one of the 335’s. By the time I got there, all the chores had been done. My two sons were sitting on the front steps with an unopened bottle of beer for me. I told them to give me a hand to take care of the horses. They said together “It’s done, dad!” Cows? “Done!” Chickens? “Done!” Everything? “Done!” Both sons hugged me. As I sat on the porch with my two sons, we talked. I drank the beer and asked, “Where’s mom?” They said she wanted a ride when we were through talking. We flew to Mt. Rainier and sat above it and watched the sun go down from there. We then flew over Tacoma and Seattle seeing the lights come on, then back home.”

“Did you get lucky Sir?” Frank asked.

“What do you know about lucky Major?”

“I saved the world. It looked like two girls giggling while they both kissed a cheek.”

“Yes, I got lucky!” Bruce Kenny had a smile that lit up the auditorium.

When Nicole Buttinger one of the five stepped up to the table, “Lieutenant Lucy what happened?” It was apparent Lucy had been crying. Her eyes were red and puffy, and her energy was low.

“I did something stupid like a boy last night.” Lucy said, “It won’t happen again.”

The night before: It was almost 7:00 PM. Ted, the Mayor, the School Principle and many of the city council had a buffet set up for the kids to have a big welcome and meal. Tina and Scott were there.

Everyone had a big plate full of the food the Mayor looked to Ted and nodded, “How was this first day?” Ted asked, He already was amazed at what had been done. To him, the school day had ended, and yet more education had been accomplished in a few hours than he thought possible. He had learned more than most classes in college had given him and his role was a bystander.

Frank looked at Lucy, “I had hoped we would be where we are at by 8 or 9 tonight. I had hoped we might have an idea who the leaders are. Does anybody have a concern with Sonny?”

One by one the cadets said Sonny and gave a reason why with an example of what they saw happen. One was when Bruce Kenny was called to the table after Sonny had become a cadet. Sonny went up to his friend, Bruce was all negative. Sonny took him by his arm, “If you want this then dump your pity NOW realize you can get it with a real smile and a good attitude! They don’t give a shit what you have done, all they want to know is about the future” He then with Bruce’s arm in hand-pulled him off the bleachers to Lieutenant Lucy’s table, “Be somebody I can depend upon. Grow up, please.” Sonny told him just before he sat down. Sonny was then pulled out and went around the world.”

“He’d make a good officer.” Was said by Dennis.

“I agree.” Was said by both Curtis and Lucy. I’m authorized to make him a Captain. All Agreed.” Frank said, laying a set of silver bars on the table. “Who’s the Platoon’s NCO?”

After several minutes of quiet, “What about Bruce?” I saw Sonny come up to Bruce and the two talked then Bruce went over and talked to one of the guys. The guy had been talking and causing a disturbance until Bruce talked to him.”

“Are there any disagreements?” Frank asked, “Then I suggest we have Sonny Yah or Nay this promotion for Bruce to E-4.” All the kids were nodding their consent.

“Is this normal in how you make decisions?’ The Mayor asked.

Frank looked at the smile on Ted’s face getting a wink then looked at the Mayor again, “Sir I trust my team. They are my eyes and ears. They trust me in an emergency to make the best decision that time allows. We want to make the best decisions possible because of the success of the Cadet Program in Conrad, Montana depends on them. Please forgive us for not being sociable, we just have things that need to get done and I thought since it pertained to Conrad you would like to see the thinking that goes into these decisions. I can make decisions, in fact in the blink of an eye I probably made five or ten. When I saw those Aliens dropping out of the sky, I screamed all stop, they are coming down over Seattle. I repositioned 281 ships and realized I needed as many seconds as possible for that to happen. I started FIRING one of our lasers. Our AI on her own raised the front of the ship so I could continue firing almost straight up. I hit 100 alien ships in two and a half minutes. By then my ships had repositioned to a clear sight on the enemy. We were ready for the battle. One of the reasons I got promoted was I brought all my men and women home!” The table was quiet for a couple of minutes.

“Mayor, do you have any more concerns, about what is going on?” Ted asked. Many others around the table were also smiling.

“Concerns NO, amazed, overwhelmed, bewildered with feelings of excitement. This is way better than the first space launch. This is right up there with my marriage to my high school sweetheart or the birth of each of my children. To think that next week or next month I could fly around the moon. Wow! No Concerns.” The Mayor ate some food with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face.

“Do we have all the thirty-three spots filled?” Frank asked.

“Yes, and we have 74 more signed applications,” Lucy said.

“Have you talked with the General?” Frank asked.

“Yes, Sir. He is thinking about it.” Lucy said.

“What would he be thinking about?” Ted asked. Everybody in the room was leaning over the table to hear the answer.

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