Overruled by Hank Davis & Christopher Ruocchio

Overruled by Hank Davis & Christopher Ruocchio

Author:Hank Davis & Christopher Ruocchio [Davis, Hank & Ruocchio, Christopher]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781982124502
Publisher: Baen Books
Published: 2020-04-07T04:00:00+00:00

Caleb Newgate stood at the ship’s upper deck railing and felt, as he had for days, the taste of salt on his lips. Salt didn’t fill just the ocean at the equator. It filled the air, his skin, his mouth. He wore shorts and a loose-fitting cotton collared shirt with a tiny penguin embroidered over his heart. There was salt in his clothes, too.

They didn’t need him in the control room. He was just the lawyer, not an engineer, not a technician, and certainly not one of the settlers. And maybe he was the fall guy, not that it was some big secret from him. If anyone could figure that out, it was the Long Shot’s lawyer.

He had done his time in the control room—purely as an observer—with his sole role being to have his stomach consume the rest of him from the inside out. It had worked, and now with the wind layering more salt onto his skin, he watched through his binoculars the liquid oxygen boil off the mighty rocket on its platform some two miles distant from the ship.

The winds had to be just right. He’d learned all about the winds after the crew had finished ballasting the platform, flooding its pylons with water to lower it and increase its stability. There had been wind criteria just to roll the vehicle from its hangar to the pad and erect it. And now, upper atmospheric winds had to be high enough to be measurable by the rawinsonde balloons sent aloft. High winds and wind shears at altitude could put unacceptable loading on the vehicle during flight. Long skinny, fragile things with lots of surface area—like rockets—travelling at a high velocity tended not to do well when experiencing lateral loading.

They didn’t measure salt aloft, but he wondered how high it went.

Maybe they’d look for him after everyone had gone, if there were any balloons left.

Wave height mattered, too. The rocket, with its several dozen families jammed aboard, didn’t need wave heights in excess of what the platform could compensate for, and the swells had been too high, the direction wrong, for days. Until now.

They broadcast the count over the ship, and there was a small screen set into the little room behind him here on the upper deck. He could hear the GO/NO GO criteria called out, red, yellow, green down the line. They were coming to the waves. He had the litany memorized, and he knew all that came before the waves. The waves had turned the range red for days.

The waves were green.

The range was green.

Caleb had watched his fair share of launches from land. Clients would take him out as a treat. He waited for the familiar rush, the reverberation in his bones, the noise and glow that filled the sky, and the moment of glory as man or one of his machines wrenched free of planet Earth.

It happened again, all the same this time, but humanity’s glory took second place this time, second place to


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