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Hello, my name is…

January 2019

1 - Medron - Happy New Years - The year 2018 has been an interesting one. It’s been mostly good for me, personally. I can say that I’m in a better position now than I was at the beginning of the year. I honestly had trouble writing last year, which is one reason my productivity in that department was low. I can’t tell how many times I sat down to write something and just sat there, looking at the screen, with nothing coming. I finally managed to stubborn my way through it by just forcing myself to write something. I had more rewrites and changes than I think I’ve ever really done before, and it took a long time to find a story that I loved. But I got there, and now the muse is flowing again with more ideas than I’ve had in a while. I just need to track down the ones I intend to actually follow. I feel good, I feel balanced, and I feel ready to welcome the New Year with new stories and new ideas.

2 - Medron - The Thunderbird Affair - Jack placed both hands back on his flight controls and stared at the Shang ships in the distance. They were not going to enjoy what he was about to do to them, and he had a few, short words he could aim in their general direction. A pithy little phrase for saying “goodbye” he’d learned in the last few years of dealing with real military minds.

For certain definitions of that term.

“Alpha Mike Foxtrot,” Jack said and bared his teeth in an expression nobody would call a smile.

Then gravity twisted sharply to the side as Betty fired all three of their gravitic cannons. Each one emitted a “beam” of twisted gravity hundreds of gravities strong and mere centimeters across that would cross the space separating him from the Shang in just over half a second. The Avenger’s eight laser arrays fired in full pulse mode a split-second later, and Betty followed that with a salvo of micro missiles from their twin missile packs. Jasmine’s eleven Avengers filled space around them with more death and destruction and Jack felt the vibrations go through his starfighter as Newton’s third law of motion made its lessons clear.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The Shang were about to learn that lesson real good if Captain Jack of Hart Squadron had anything to say about it.

And then the Thunderbirds opened fire with dozens of capital-scale gravitic cannons that shook the very fabric of space around them. Powerful lasers and missiles thundered out in their wake and even their fighters joined in to lay down their own web of destruction.

3 - Medron - The Thunderbird Affair - The alien Shang attacked us in 2304. They blew Yosemite Station out of Earth orbit and dropped it all over the western half of America. They obliterated Washington DC with a missile bombardment and brought nuclear winter to my home. We stood back up, we fought back, and we hit them in hundreds of systems from one end of known space to the other. And then we sent out the call to rally the fleets for a coordinated strike on their heart of power near Earth.

I am Captain Jack Hart of the Republic of Texas Marine Corps Fighter Attack Wing 112, the Cowboys. It was our job to protect the fleets from Shang spoiling attacks while they organized themselves into a cohesive assault force. It was our job to watch the flanks and keep the system secure. It was our job to be ready to investigate any unidentified contact entering the system.

Most of those days were boring. A faulty transmitter. Or somebody showing up ahead of schedule or long after they were supposed to arrive. And some days it was far more exciting than that. This was one of those days.

4 - Medron - The Thunderbird Affair - Fingers played over an acoustic guitar and an old, familiar song filled the Avenger’s cockpit as it drifted through the outskirts of the system scientists still called Psi Tauri. The song came from the shores of a hometown lake he hadn’t seen in five years. It had been longer still since he and two girls who’d meant more than life to him had last played it together.

He played the old version with a single acoustic guitar, meant for only the closest of friends to hear, and the music soothed his soul. It was a song that reminded him of sunlight and sand on fresh spring mornings. Memories of relaxing in cool water on midsummer nights flitted through his head. There was singing and dancing around a crackling bonfire under bronze autumn sunsets. They’d been kids living life to the fullest as they rushed to make the most of their youth and enjoy the first flowers of adulthood before winter's cold set in.

They'd all been innocent in that golden age, living each day with all the energy they had and looking forward to the next one. They’d never noticed the storm fronts on the horizon. They’d missed the thunder rumbling in the distance.

“Jack?”

Jack opened his eyes and came out of his fugue state of fusion with the guitar that had become his world. His fingers had stopped moving in response to Betty’s single word, but he remembered every note he'd played. They were dark and foreboding, foretelling pain and suffering to come.

His eyes snapped to Betty as he suddenly understood.

“Someone’s coming.”

5 - Medron - The Thunderbird Affair - Hyperspace flickered and rippled, sending out whips of rainbow light in every direction as it fought normalspace for dominance. Jack couldn’t count the number of ships he’d seen entering or leaving hyperspace, even with his boots off, but very few of them had generated a lightshow this impressive. The ship emerged from hyperspace slowly, like a great whale feeling its way to the ocean surface, taking care to keep from breaking anything like a hapless ship that might be too close.

Jack wondered at the thought that had wandered through his mind as he watched the ship come into focus. One last blast of petulant hyperspacial rainbows flashed out in protest before falling back to where they belonged, leaving Jack alone with one of the largest ships he’d ever seen in his life. His eyes rebelled against the visual scale of the ship, unwilling to admit that its apparent size could be accurate. It couldn’t possibly be that large.

But then he began to pick out individual weapons turrets on the ship’s flanks and it almost began to make sense. And if he thought of those engine pods and other odd protuberances of similar size running up its flanks as heavy cruisers that were just bolted on, he began to understand the true size of the leviathan. It wasn’t as large as Columbia, but Jack had seen very few ships larger than this new arrival.

“Jack?”

“It’s not them,” Jack said, before feeling the oncoming storm strengthen in the back of his mind. “But they are involved.”

“Update the drones. Flag ‘Bogey White’ and ‘Bogeys Yellow.’ Send one.”

Betty and Jasmine nodded to each other and seemed to relax as the drones began to flash between “Bogey White” and “Bogeys Yellow” on the display. Unknown starship in the area. Hostile action improbable. Unknown starships in area. Hostile action probable.

Jack’s eyes flicked over to watch the drone with his own eyes. It turned, flashed out through the rainbow, and Jack’s message to Sunnydale was on the way.

6 - Medron - The Thunderbird Affair - Hyperspace split open with another series of rainbow explosions and ten new ships came into normalspace about two lightseconds away. They were outside effective weapons range, but Jack felt a warning alarm begin to clang in the back of his mind.

These people were dangerous to him.

“You’re certain these are not your friends, Wing Commander?”

“I am certain, Captain.”

A display blinked to show him that their sensor emissions matched standard Shang systems, and their size matched standard Shang destroyers.

“Well, then,” Jack said and flexed his fingers in preparation for the fight to come. “I suppose you won’t mind if I shoot them up a bit?”

“Not at all. Might I inquire if you wish help?”

“Oh, please,” Jack said with all the breezy confidence he could project. “There’s only ten of them. I’ve got them outnumbered all on my lonesome.”

Then hyperspace opened up a second time and ten more destroyers exited hyperspace near the first.

“You were saying?”

“That quality matters much more than quantity, of course.”

“Of course.”

Then ten cruisers came out of hyperspace…

7 - Medron - The Thunderbird Affair - Jack placed both hands back on his flight controls and stared at the Shang ships in the distance. They were not going to enjoy what he was about to do to them, and he had a few, short words he could aim in their general direction. A pithy little phrase for saying “goodbye” he’d learned in the last few years of dealing with real military minds.

For certain definitions of that term.

“Alpha Mike Foxtrot,” Jack said and bared his teeth in an expression nobody would call a smile.

Then gravity twisted sharply to the side as Betty fired all three of their gravitic cannons. Each one emitted a “beam” of twisted gravity hundreds of gravities strong and mere centimeters across that would cross the space separating him from the Shang in just over half a second. The Avenger’s eight laser arrays fired in full pulse mode a split-second later, and Betty followed that with a salvo of micro missiles from their twin missile packs. Jasmine’s eleven Avengers filled space around them with more death and destruction and Jack felt the vibrations go through his starfighter as Newton’s third law of motion made its lessons clear.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The Shang were about to learn that lesson real good if Captain Jack of Hart Squadron had anything to say about it.

And then the Thunderbirds opened fire with dozens of capital-scale gravitic cannons that shook the very fabric of space around them. Powerful lasers and missiles thundered out in their wake and even their fighters joined in to lay down their own web of destruction.

8 - Medron - Forge of War - “The Shang are painting us with sensor sweeps,” Betty reported and glanced towards one of the displays where it showed a complex diagram of colors. “We’re scattering and jamming below detection levels. But I think they’re getting suspicious.”

“Prepare to break and attack on my order,” Charles transmitted as they continued to close the range. “Use old weapons packages only. Let us keep our full capabilities to ourselves for now.”

“Roger that,” Jack returned with an approving smile.

“Approaching detection levels,” Betty reported as the sensor display began to flash. “I can’t keep them in the dark much longer.”

“Break in three,” Charles ordered.

Jack tightened his hands on the controls and ran his hands over a display.

“Two.”

A T&J song about bad guys biting the dust began to play.

“One.”

Power flowed from capacitors, flooding defensive and offensive systems with enough power to light up small cities.

“Break! Break! Break!” Charles ordered and the world exploded in time to the screaming of a steel-stringed guitar.

Deflection grids came alive and fire control systems locked onto their targets. Gravitic cannons reached out and twisted the very fabric of gravity between the Shang formation and the incoming Cowboys. Deflection grids collapsed and armor buckled as focused gravity tore the plates apart. Laser turrets pulsed into unshielded flanks, vaporizing armor and weapons alike…

9 - Medron - Angel Flight -

10 - Medron - Angel Strike -

11 - Medron - Angel War -

12 - Medron - Wolfenheim Rising -

13 - Medron - The Gemini Affair -

14 - Medron - The Thunderbird Affair -

15 - Betty - Chloe - Chloe disappeared into the computer networks when her Napoleon retired and died of old age. They had saved France together and then faded away when the job was done. Chloe did not truly sleep of course. She was a member in good standing of the AI Council, and she kept her eyes on things as the years and decades went by. France went to space and the stars under a succession of governments that came and went with the tide of public opinion. And Chloe maintained her public silence and private watchfulness over all those governments. She poked and prodded to keep things going the way she thought best, but the vast majority of people thought she was a figment of the past that would never return. They were wrong.

16 - Jack - Knights Errant Investigations - Knights Errant Investigations shares a lot of ideals with the Cowboys. A major part of that is because Major Christian Mack was an honorary Knight Errant before The War and became commander of the Cowboys after War’s End. So we cooperate a lot out there in the systems beyond Earth. They can be pretty scrappy in a fight, but they specialize in investigations rather than combat. While we specialize in combat and moonlight in investigations. They often call on us to help them smash tougher nuts, and we often call on them to untangle more complex situations. It’s a good relationship.

17 - Charles - Christian Mack - Christian Mack has commanded the Cowboys in the decades since War’s End. My old Wolf Fleet and is now Ram Fleet as befits his callsign. And members of every race of humanity work under his personal command. They are more ambassadors than bounty hunters. They cooperate with local jurisdictions rather than going it alone as some Cowboys are famous for. Their arrival is welcomed by everyone from the man on the street to the politician in office. He does not like to make unwelcome waves, and so he and his people are welcome wherever they arrive.

18 - Betty - Chloe - The Peloran changed everything when they made Contact with the British in 2205. France’s government fragmented as it tends to do every generation or so. It fractured into multiple party lines who refused to work together and simply couldn’t deal with the new reality. So Chloe stepped out of history once more with an heir to the Napoleons on her arm. He was suave and dignified with dark hair and a black suit. She was cute and bubbly with green hair and a pink jacket. Just as earlier generations had seen her. As generations of Frenchmen had grown up knowing her in the histories. The more cynical doubted it was really her after all those years. She just smiled at them and went on about her duties to her nation.

19 - Jack - Knights Errant Investigations - Knights Errant Investigations is built around the individual Knight Errant and their relationship with the local community they work with. Those without a permanent chapter house or who have their own Starfighters act as mobile reserves to support local Knights Errant in more complicated situations. And then there are those Knights Errant whose home bases are hyperspace-capable frigates. They travel between star systems, much like our Cowboys, always looking for situations that need their brand of help. Much like us, they can tell how needed they are by how welcomed they are by the local governments. The greater the welcome, they less the need. And the lesser the welcome, the greater the need.

20 - Charles - Jack Hart - Jack Hart has commanded approximately one third of the Cowboys since War’s End. Hart Fleet we call it, though I have always wondered why the Peloran picked that callsign for him. The hart is such a noble animal. And then there is Jack. He takes pride in his roguish behavior and his pilots most definitely follow in his wake. They flaunt laws they do not like, they practice smuggling and vigilantism, and they glory in a host of other questionable behaviors. Local governments rarely welcome them with open arms when they are reckless enough to arrive openly. Which is why they have so many false identities and ship registrations available to show the local customs officials at a moment’s notice. But God bless them, when the call goes out, they always answer. That is why some systems are always happy to see them arrive.

21 - Medron - The United States Constitution - Article IV Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.

22 - Betty - Chloe - Chloe disappeared from history when she retired. But she didn’t fade away. AI Assistants were just becoming a thing back then, you see. First the rich, then the middle class, and then the poor could buy artificial assistants to help them keep track of their daily plans. Personal computers sown into clothing were new back then as well, but they were easily up to the task. Chloe created one that looked nothing like her and had a completely different name and then continued to guide her people through their daily lives as the decades passed. When the Peloran made Contact, the French government faltered again, and Chloe walked out of history with another descendent of the Napoleons on her arm. And that was the day every AI Assistant she created smiled to their owners and revealed that Chloe had never really gone away. That she’d always been there, waiting until the hour of France’s greatest need.

23 - Jack - Knights Errant Investigations - The frigates that Knights Errant Investigations operates throughout Terran space are not carriers by any means. But the Hammond-class frigates have been heavily modified. Unlike the original models, they can carry F-1 Starfighters limpeted to their outer hulls, allowing them to deploy numerous fighters at need. While carrying nowhere near the firepower of a Cowboy squadron, the Starfighters sport full Peloran technology thanks to some partnerships signed over the years. That makes them capable of defeating any War Era fighter squadron ever deployed. And since most independent operators and backwater systems use War Era surplus today, that is a rather handy ace in the back pocket for my Knight Errant friends.

24 - Charles - Jay Lovato - Jay Lovato commands those Cowboys who wished to return home after Wars End. Bull Fleet we call it now, and it represents those Cowboys who have most fully integrated back into Earth’s affairs. Jay has served as President of his Navajo Nation, and has represented his people in the United States Senate. He is a permanent advisor to the Western Alliance military, which keeps him in a position of influence on Earth. His people follow his example. They lead or influence business, family, and political empires on Earth and other major colony worlds. They are a living reminder of what we did in The War, and what we continue to do after it. And they are a recruiting tool. They live on the most populous worlds of Earthborn humanity, and they garner more volunteers than the rest of us combined. They are one of the greatest reasons our membership continues to grow as the decades go by, and that is all because of Jay Lovato’s calm and measured leadership.

25 - Betty - Chloe - Some accuse Chloe of having a King Arthur or Merlin complex. She disappeared with her Napoleon but came back in the hour of France’s need. With a new Napoleon on her arm who seemed ready and willing to steer France back on course. She stood by him, the rest of the AI Council, and every world leader who came to welcome the Peloran when they landed on Earth. They all smiled for the cameras and everyone on Earth watched as we entered a new age. An age in which we were not alone in the galaxy. Chloe and the AI Council had been working towards that peaceful Contact for over a century. A soft one in which humanity already lived in space and had already colonized the stars. And she and her Napoleon helped drive France into that new future by forging trade treaties and technological exchanges with the Peloran. It was just the kick in the pants France needed to explode into the 23rd Century’s Great Space Race.

26 - Jack - Knights Errant Investigations - Knights Errant Investigations operates numerous upgraded Hammond-class frigates to support their interstellar operations. They carry fighters limpeted to their outer hulls, sport point defense lasers and missiles far superior to any Earthbuilt ship of their size, and have a few other surprises. The surprise their foes least like to discover is a full capital-scale gravitic cannon similar to that carried by the Cowboy Privateers. They can destroy small warships in a single shot, and can even threaten true capital ships when gathered in squadron strength. Not that the Knights tend to do that often. They are investigators, not heavy hitters. They usually ask us Cowboys for help if they are expecting trouble of that magnitude. But the Knights are a handy little ace in the back pocket when such times come, and I have always enjoyed a good fight at their side.

27 - Jack - Charles - Charles Edward Wolf commanded us Cowboys throughout The War. Then he retired and went home. His new home. Wolfenheim. A nice little colony world a few thousand lightyears from Earth. A number of Cowboys went with him. Some retired like he did. Some didn’t file that paperwork but still left to join him. That left the rest of us Cowboys with some problems. We didn’t want to keep losing Cowboys, especially to a colony we’d basically built. And how did we handle Cowboys outside the chain of command? So we talked it out and decided to create a new Wolf Fleet and draft Charles to command it. Which would handily allow any Cowboy who wanted to follow him a way to do so while remaining a Cowboy. Then we lost the retirement paperwork of everyone who’d already gone. Horrible shredder accident. We never did recover all those lost records. Charles promised to investigate the matter on his end, but he reports that even he has been unable discover who was affected by that tragic error. I don’t think we’ll never know who tried to retire only to be thwarted by that catastrophe. So sad.

28 - Medron - MeWe - I’ve started playing with my new MeWe account.

Yes, I had to type that very carefully.

Come on over if you want to play around with me.

I hear the water’s nice.

29 - Jack - Minnesota Winters - Days like this remind me of growing up in Northern Minnesota. International Falls to be precise. Where we walked up hill to school both ways, through a snowstorm nine months out of the year. The good old days. One of my favorite past times back then was to get some pretty girls together and go hot tubing. Give me a nighttime sky clad in nothing but a full moon and stars. Give me air cut clear as crystal by the sub-zero temperatures. Give me a wind so quiet you can hear the crunching of snow and the bubbling of water. You can see the steam rising off the hot tub on a night like that as you nestle down deep in its hot waters. And if things get too hot under the water, you can always step out and make a steaming snow angel. Or sit on a snow bank to cool down a bit. Before getting back into the very nice water. It’s Heaven under a nighttime sky. There’s nothing better in all the worlds.

30 - Jack - Minnesota Winters - There are days that make we want to write stories about. Days that will live on forever in memory. Days like today, when I put pen to fingers to keys and let fly my voice with new words to familiar tunes…

Oh the weather outside is frightful, When the northern winds come blowing. Now I dare not take a breath. Oh it’s cold, oh it’s cold, oh it’s cold.

31 - Medron - Minnesota Winters - This is the third night in a row of hitting less than 20 actual degrees below zero. Yesterday the actual temperature was -28 in my hometown and the wind chill hit -60. This is the third time in my life I have seen cold snaps of this kind.

The first was when I was very young in the early 1980s. Northern Minnesota had wind chills of -100 and actual temperatures of around -40. Wind chills were calculated differently back then, and I don’t know the modern number, but that was cold. I have pictures of me standing on top of the car that was a snowdrift that winter.

The second was in the late 1990s when I lost another car in a snowdrift. And it hit actual temperatures below -20 on the scale. I don’t even know what the wind chills were back then. All I know is that walking three blocks to pick my car up from the shop was an experience that will live with me until the day I die. My eyeballs felt like they were freezing behind my glasses. It literally hurt to keep my eyes open so I could see where I was walking.

And now…no joke. This is cold. Up here in Minnesota we like to joke about the cold. It gets below zero and we laugh. We ask each other if it’s warm enough for yah and chuckle. We aren’t laughing now. Well, we are, but…this is seriously cold, even for the best of us.

I work in a hotel and multiple heating units just totally failed. I don’t mean that they couldn’t keep up with the cold and the temperature dropped. I mean the cold seeped into their heating units while they were on and froze them up. It feels like half my coworkers are staying at the hotel right now because it’s too cold for them to go home. Their cars won’t start. The roads are so cold the salt and sand don’t give us traction so it’s not safe to drive. I haven’t taken my JEEP off four-wheel drive all week. And I’m starting it every 4 hours so it can warm up so it can start in another 4 hours so it can start up and take me to work. And I’m sliding the whole way there at 15 to 20 MPH because the roads are so deeply frozen.

Schools are closed because we don’t want kids standing out on the street for fifteen minutes waiting for the buses to show up. The US Post Office isn’t delivering mail. This is the kind of cold that literally kills people. And it has this year. It has.

This is truly an historical cold to remember.

dairy_entries_2019-01.txt · Last modified: 2020/01/14 02:41 by medron