Per Ardua Ad Astra
Chapter 15: Steve arrives at Holloman

Copyright© 2013 by normist

I asked Kate to get me Steve Edmunds on the phone.

"Hello Commodore, I had begun to think you had forgotten your old friends."

"No, Steve, I've just been too busy getting settled in. I have rung you with an offer to join the Space Service."

"Whatever as? I enjoyed our flights, but what do you think I could do for you."

"I'm getting to the point where I need a competent administrator, and I thought of you."

"Tell me more. Life has become somewhat dull since you disappeared."

"Things are getting quite exciting down here. They're accelerating to the point where I don't think I can keep up much longer. I need help. How would you like to come down here and look the place over?"

"Right, give me a couple of days to tidy my affairs here and I'll drive down. You know my email address, so send me directions, and I'll see you in a few days. 'Bye for now."

I returned to my inspection of the drawings from the Skunk Works. By now, I realized that I needed input from the potential crew, Thinking I should go and inspect the new base, I was about to leave the office when the phone rang.


"Commodore Axon?"

"Yes. Who are you?"

"Oh my name is Long, Thomas Long."

"What can I do for you Mister Long?"

"I currently work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I've been working with some of my colleagues on coastal charting with the Coast Guard. That's where we heard about the start of a Space Service. We were wondering if you had any vacancies for cartographers?"

"Yes, we do, indeed! There are a lot of planets out there that need mapping. What you should do is to get onto Bob Mather at the White House. Ask him to send you application forms. In the meantime, why don't you consider how you would map a brand new planet and what equipment you would need. Remember that on a new planet there is no G.P.S."

"Thank you, Sir. We'll do that. Thank you for talking to me."

"I look forward to receiving your applications. Goodbye."

While I had the phone in my hand, I thought I would ring Bob Mather and find out how the application forms were progressing and why he had told my last caller to contact me. It turned out that his application forms were not quite ready.

"In any case," he said, "you told me to keep you in the loop."

That made me chuckle. I told him that in the future, that would only apply to Lieutenant-Commanders and above. After we had chewed the fat for a few minutes, I decide to seek out Colonel Crisp to see if I could borrow or even steal a few bodies to run our base. I finally caught up with him coming out of the briefing room where he had been sitting in on a flying exercise.

"Colonel Crisp can I have a word with you?"

"Of course, Commodore. I know that neither of us is Navy, but as the sun is over the Yardarm, why don't we adjourn to the bar?"

"A good idea, especially as I have a favor to ask of you."

"I suppose you want to borrow my men to staff that Base of yours?"

"Yes. How did you know?"

"Your White House friend, Mather. He called me earlier today to see if the idea was feasible."

"And is it?"

"Yes. I've spent most of this afternoon with some of my officers sorting out names. When do you think that you'll need them?"

"Fairly soon, I should think. As soon as Lieutenant Commander Bollinger says we can start moving in, we will do so. I want to thank you for all your help."

"That's okay," he smiled "but I'll expect to get another ride out of it."

"I'm sure we'll accommodate you, Colonel. For how long do you think we can borrow your staff?"

"As I see it, You'll sort out your needs, and by that time, the troops will know if they want to stay or come back here. Then I can review the staffing here and return any surplus bodies to where they came from."

At that moment, the Seabees Lieutenant Commander entered the mess. He saw us and came over.

"Sirs, may I have a word?"

"Yes, Chris," I said, "What can we do for you?"

"Hrmph," said the Colonel. "In the services, Sir we only use first names between officers of equal rank. I thought I ought to tell you."

"Thank you, Colonel. I'm not sure that the Space Service is going to be so formal. We'll have to formulate our own customs."

"Of course, Commodore, but may I respectfully remind you that this is an Air Force mess."

"Yes, Colonel. Point taken. Now, who would like a drink before Dinner?"

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