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 Post subject: First Date
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 7:04 pm 
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First Date
By Chris Taylor
PG

Chapter 1

Battlestar Galactica
Crew Quarters

"Shouldn't you pack something sexier? Maybe something with a little lace on it?" Lt. Margaret 'Racetrack' Edmondson asked as she watched Sharon throwing her regulation undergarments into her daybag.

"It's not like that!" Sharon insisted. "I just figure it's important to keep on good terms with the deck chief, so I wanted to do something to make up for all the dents I've put in his flight deck... and he's never been up in a glider before."

"Sure, sure," Margaret replied, "and you just look at him like that to get him to fix your Raptor first."

Sharon stopped packing and turned to face Margaret. "I don't look at him... what do you mean? Do you think he thinks I'm looking at him?"

Before Margaret could answer, the bulkhead latch swiveled clockwise and the door opened with a loud clang. "Are you rooks ready for Starbuck's tour of the seediest fleshpots and cheapest bars of Sagittaron?" Kara Thrace asked as she stood in the doorway with her flightbag over her shoulder, a cigar in hand, and a mischievous grin on her face. "Or perhaps you'd prefer the cheapest fleshpots and the seediest bars?"

"I can't go drinking with you this time," Sharon answered, "I've got some other stuff to do on shore leave."

"She's got a date with Chief Tyrol," Margaret announced.

"It's not like that." Sharon said.

"Galen and Sharon sittin' in a tree..." Maragret taunted with the children's rhyme. "K.I.S."

"It's not like that!"

"Let me see," Kara said as the grin vanished from her face and she slid the flightbag off her shoulder to land on the floor. Kara walked slowly around Sharon and looked her up and down, then leaned forward to sniff at Sharon's hair. "Smell's like Margaret's right," Kara concluded.

"You know, Starbuck, some of us bathe out of habit." Sharon remarked.

Margaret's giggle was cut short when Kara barked sharply, "Do you nuggets think this is funny?" Sharon and Margaret shifted uncomfortably as Kara scolded them. "Frakin' around inside the chain of command is strictly prohibited. You know that."

"Gee, Starbuck," Sharon asked sheepishly, "Since when did you start caring about regulations?"

"Since there's a damn good reason for them." Kara replied as she scowled at Sharon. "You go fraternizing around with another crewman and the next thing you know you're all moony eyed for him. You start making stupid decisions, and you tell yourself it's okay because you're in love. Well, it's not frakin' okay. This is a warship and you're a combat pilot." Sharon flinched as spittle hit her face when Kara leaned in closely to yell at her. "People live and die based on your decisions, and if you start thinking with your hormones instead of your head then you're gonna get people killed. If you're lucky then that someone will only be you." Kara turned quickly to face Margaret. "Do you think this is amusing, nugget?" Kara asked harshly, her face reddening and twisted into an expression of anger and disgust. "You rooks better learn this right now for your own good." Kara looked back and forth between Sharon and Margraet. "You do your frakin' outside the chain of command, and that's the way it is." Kara turned and picked up her flightbag without waiting for a response. "Finish packing and head to the briefing room," she said curtly before jamming her cigar into her mouth and heading out the door.

Sharon and Margaret, still stunned by Kara's outburst, looked wordlessly at each other for several seconds. "What the frak happened to her?" Margaret finally asked.

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 Post subject: Re: First Date
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 7:11 pm 
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First Date
By Chris Taylor
PG

Chapter 2

Sagittaron
2000 meters Above Ground Level

"Is it always this rough in a sailplane?" Chief Tyrol asked Sharon as their two-seat sport glider bounced through the dense cloud.

"The lower wingloading makes it a lot more responsive than a powered craft," Sharon replied from the pilot's seat directly behind him. "But you don't normally have to fly through weather like this. Make sure your harness is on tight."

Sharon knew that she should not have allowed them to get caught by the storm. Ordinarily she would never have flown with today's forecast, but she did not want to call off her flight with the Chief and she had bet that she could stay ahead of the cold front. She had lost that bet and was having to wrestle the glider through the turbulent clouds to the nearest airfield. The lightweight sport sailplane only had instruments for visual flight, but with her almost unnatural sense of direction, Sharon was confident she could keep them on course long enough to clear the cloud layer.

Kara had been right, Sharon admitted to herself. It was her first date with Tyrol and she had already let her feelings cause her to make a potentially fatal mistake. It was stupid of her to break regulations like this anyway. Sharon resolved that as soon as their flight was over that she'd end things with the Chief before it went too far and caused her more problems.

A pocket of turbulence forced Sharon's right wing up. She pushed over quickly on the controls to compensate, but the response felt wrong. The plane rolled back too slow. She made a slight S curve in the air to confirm her suspicions. "Frak," she announced as she suddenly noticed the haze starting to form at the bottom front of the aircraft's canopy. Sharon quickly flipped the propulsion switch on the control panel.

The nose cone of the glider slid forward a tenth of a meter, and a pair of propeller blades folded out of the gap. The aircraft's electric motor whined as the blades rotated faster and faster.

"What is it?" Tyrol asked.

"We've got ice building up on the wings." Sharon said. "We're picking it up faster than the glider's deicing system can handle. I'm going to try to get above it." Sharon pushed the throttle to maximum and pulled the aircraft into a climb. "The electrical controls are on the left side of the panel," she instructed Chief Tyrol, "Pull all the breakers except the two labeled "prop." and "de-ice."

Sharon did not want to say anything that would let her passenger know just how much trouble they were in. She gritted her teeth and tried not to think about how deadly a crash could be there in the rugged Sagittarian mountains. They had packed light for a quick overnight trip to a hot-springs resort. When she had plotted her flightplan yesterday, the mountain range was just a set of squiggly topographic lines that they could look down on while gliding towards the heated baths that awaited them at the tourist resort. Now the size and inhospitableness of the mountain wilderness below them was brutally real. Even if she set the glider down intact they would be stranded on a mountainside during a winter storm. At the start of her day Sharon's biggest concern was what underwear she should be wearing and now she was flying for their lives.

As the propeller blades reached their operating speed the powered-sailplane began slowly rising through the cloudbank. The airplane continued to buffet wildly in the winds and the view outside the canopy was a featureless swirl of grey mist, with no references to suggest up from down or left from right. Sharon trusted her instruments and her instincts. She focused on the airspeed and climb rate, attempting to get the most altitude out of the limited power in her battery. As soon as she would almost get the aircraft into a stable orientation the turbulent wind would shove it in different direction, like some giant invisible hand that constantly fought to keep them off balance. The opaque glaze of ice on the canopy front crept back steadily to cover more of the windscreen and each passing second the response to her flight controls felt more sluggish. The ice was still building up, methodically, steadily, robbing her of lift and adding weight. "There's no need to worry, we'll be out of this in a second," she lied to Chief Tyrol.

"I'm not worried," he lied back.

Her engine strained to pull their ice-laden craft up out of the storm. "Climb, baby, climb," Sharon thought to herself. All her wishes and willpower can't lift a sailplane, however, and most of her battery power had been used in launching the power-assisted sailplane at the start of their trip.

The grey swirling vapor all around them grew lighter above. At first it was so subtle that Sharon feared it was just her imagination, but soon it became obvious. The grey turned to white and then light blue. Suddenly they were out of the clouds, skimming along just above a grey flat sea of water-vapor and ice crystals that stretched as far as the eye could see. The sunlight poured into the sailplane's canopy, and the ride became smooth again as they climbed above the weather.


"See, nothing to worry about," Sharon said. The aircraft's batteries were almost depleted, but Sharon kept the propeller running and continued to gain altitude as quickly as she could. As the sailplane rose above the broad cloudbank Sharon could see a few stray puffs of grey vapor that rose up above the rest of the clouds to look like strange, giant mushrooms or fantasy castles sitting in a sea of dull dishwater that stretched from horizon to horizon. Sharon could not see, however, what she hoped for and what their lives might now depend upon finding: an opening in the clouds.

Author's Note: I'm not a new writer and am interested in honest feedback even if it's negative.

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 Post subject: Re: First Date
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 9:16 pm 
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I am interested to see where you are going, Chris, but more interested in the inevitable explanation of what died up Starbuck's ass.


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 Post subject: Re: First Date
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 11:37 pm 
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Very interesting description of the flight problems. Almost reads like one of those real-life adventure stories.


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 Post subject: Re: First Date
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:39 am 
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I remember telling you I felt like I was flying the glider myself when I read it for the first time.

And now I know you flew sailplanes. Talking about what you know is always the best way.


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 Post subject: Re: First Date
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 12:04 pm 
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I liked that :waves:

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 Post subject: Re: First Date
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 1:46 pm 
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Didn't want to "pollute" your fic-thread with pixelspam, so I started a new one. :)

>>> here <<<

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 Post subject: Re: First Date
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 4:42 pm 
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rebelliousrose wrote:
I am interested to see where you are going, Chris, but more interested in the inevitable explanation of what died up Starbuck's ass.


Quote:
"People live and die based on your decisions, and if you start thinking with your hormones instead of your head then you're gonna get people killed. If you're lucky then that someone will only be you."


While the first scene appears first to be about Boomer and Chief Tyrol it is really about Starbuck and Zack Adama. This all takes place pre-Act of Contrition, of course. Kara means the last sentence in the above quote with all her heart.

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 Post subject: Re: First Date
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 4:46 pm 
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First Date
By Chris Taylor
PG

Chapter 3

Sharon and Chief Tyrol's sailplane soared 400 meters above the broad, thick storm clouds that covered the sky from horizon to horizon. With insufficient battery left to drive the engine, Sharon retracted the propellers and the sailplane glided along, losing altitude as gravity pulled the small, unpowered craft slowly but irrevocably towards the storm below. Sharon and Tyrol searched in vain for an opening in the clouds that would allow them to descend safely through the freezing rain.

Sharon turned on the radio and tried to contact a flight controller or another airfield. The only transmissions she could receive were the automated satellite weather reports and a faint shortwave music station.

"I don't see anything but clouds," Chief Tyrol said. "What if we don't find a break in the storm?"

"Then I'll have to get over a good landing area and take us down through the clouds as fast as possible so the ice doesn't have time to build up on the wings," Sharon replied. "Keep a lookout for any mountaintops peeking up through the clouds, too. It'll give me a landmark to double check our position with before I make the descent." As she said the words Sharon knew that she was lying. For the first time she could remember Sharon was not sure where she was. It had been almost half an hour since the storm moved in beneath them and blocked her view of any landmarks. On any other colony she could have checked their location with a satellite positioning system, but here on sparsely populated and undeveloped Sagittaron they didn't even have decent radio-navigation beacons. She knew the current winds and how fast she had been flying. She could estimate her position by dead reckoning, but any variations in the wind would add up to errors in her estimate. She could be a kilometer or more off course and not know it. If she tried to fly through the cloud covered mountain range even a mistake of a few hundred meters could mean the difference between safely navigating a valley and slamming their frail glider into a wall of rock. For as long as Sharon could remember she had had an almost unnatural sense of direction, but now she was not sure if she could trust it enough to fly them blind down through the mist-shrouded mountains.

"I have to look at my map," Sharon told Chief Tyrol, "I need you to hold the flight controls for me. Just focus on the horizon and use gentle movements."

"Watch the horizon. Be gentle. I've got it," Chief Tyrol replied as he gingerly wrapped his thick hands around the controls in front of him.

Sharon let go of the yoke and unfolded her flight map across her legs. The nearest airport was at a mining camp, down the length of a narrow, twisting valley. She searched the other possible landing areas for better choices, and found one at a fishing resort on the edge of a mountain lake.

"I've got it," Sharon told Chief Tyrol as she took back the controls and pivoted the sailplane to a new heading. "We're going back to an airstrip about 50 kilometers from here. We'll make our descent over the middle of a nearby lake, so we won't have to worry about hitting any structures or mountainsides. According to the weather report the bottom of this cloud layer should be about 500 meters above the water's surface. As long as we don't pick up too much ice coming down through the clouds it should be an easy glide to the landing strip from there."

"I'm not worried. I trust you, Sharon," Chief Tyrol said. "I know you’ll get us down safe." His voice seemed strong and calm, as if she had just told him that she'd save him a seat at the next card game or that her Raptor controls needed calibration.

It took almost an hour of gliding to reach the area where Sharon intended to descend through the clouds. She used that time to go over the approach and landing in her imagination several times, using the topo-lines on her flight map to picture what the lake would look like and where the airfield should be. As she skimmed along less than a hundred meters above the clouds, Sharon put the glider in a tight circle and made one last, fruitless attempt with the wireless transceiver to contact someone or find a navigational beacon.

"To minimize ice buildup I'm going to make a very aggressive descent. Is your safety harness tight?" Sharon asked Tyrol.

Galen Tyrol pulled his seat straps tight around his waist and chest, then checked the release buckle. "I'm ready," he reported as he looked around at the storm clouds raging just beneath their fragile aircraft. They looked to him to be just the same as the clouds they had been flying over for an hour. Sharon assured him that beneath these clouds, however, was a large artificial lake that they could safely descend over and a fishing resort nearby with its own dirt landing strip.

Tyrol braced himself for the descent, but instead the glider angled upward and the clouds began to fall away as Sharon pulled back on the controls to force the glider into a climb.

“Hey, I thought…” Tyrol said, momentarily confused. Then it dawned on him what Sharon was about to attempt. “…Oh, Frak!” he said as he turned his attention to the airspeed indicator on the dash. The needle had already dropped past the stall speed and kept falling. The clouds were gone from his view and blue sky filled the canopy of the nearly vertical glider. The airspeed indicator touched zero at the bottom of the dial and then remained there for a brief instant as the glider hung in the air with no lift or thrust to hold it. Galen Tyrol never thought he’d see an airspeed meter read zero for an airplane that was still flying and he dug is fingers into his chair’s armrests in anticipation of what must inevitably happen next. The clouds began to rise back up into his view as the glider rotated over the top of its arc. At first everything seemed to be moving very slowly and Chief Tyrol felt the weightlessness in his gut, as though he had just gone over the top of the carnival ride that, when he was a child, he would beg his parents to take him on at the town fair every year. “This won’t be so bad,” he thought to himself, “It’s just like a roller coaster. A two kilometer tall roller coaster…” Then the sailplane tilted sharply. It slid over on its side and downward into a spin with the stalled left wing tucked underneath them and the right wing pointed straight up into the sky. The clouds rushed up to envelope them.

The glider plummeted towards the ground in a tight spiral. Outside the canopy nothing could be seen but dark mist. Gusts and turbulence shook the glider violently as the forces of the spin pushed Tyrol backwards and sideways in his seat at the same time. He lost count of the number of rotations he had endured, and just closed his eyes and tried to focus all his attention on not throwing up his breakfast onto the dash. For a moment Tyrol lost faith in Sharon. “We’re going to die,” he thought. “She’s lost control and we’re going to die.” Then he felt Sharon slam the controls hard to the right side and down. The sideways force slackened and vanished. It seemed to Tyrol as though he were still spinning, but when he opened his eyes the artificial horizon on the control panel assured him that they were in straight and level flight. He looked out the cockpit windscreen, and there was still nothing to see but the inside of a cloud.

“Frak,” Sharon announced as she pulled the handle to activate a set of lift spoilers on the glider’s wings and the glider began losing altitude again. “The clouds weren’t supposed to go this low. I’ve got to get us underneath them.”

For a fraction of a second Tyrol’s mind was occupied with a terrible thought: “What if the clouds go all the way to the ground?” Then the mist around them lightened and dissolved. Sharon pulled in the spoilers and they were skimming through the air with a dark, broad cloud stretched out just above them, a dull grey lake a couple hundred meters below, and a solid-looking mountain ahead of them. Sharon put the glider into a tight turn to avoid the rock wall, and brought the aircraft around so that the mountain was behind them and a lake-filled mountain valley was visible through the ice-tinged canopy.

“Give me a second to get my bearings,” Sharon said. “Tell me if you spot anything that looks like a building or landing strip.”

“Is that it over there?” Tyrol asked pointing to a distant light glowing on the opposite shore of the lake.

“Yes,” Sharon verified, “That’s our landing site.”

She pointed the glider on a direct heading for the fishing resort, estimated the distance to it, checked her gages, and did some quick calculations in her head. Then she did the calculations again, very carefully. She double checked the distance and her speed and her rate of descent. They weren’t going to make it, Sharon realized. They had come out of the clouds much lower than she had hoped and on the wrong side of the lake. Even with her aggressive descent through the storm she had still picked up far too much ice on her wings. The sailplane was sinking too fast and the other side of the lake was too far away. Sharon tried to guess how long she and Chief Tyrol could survive in the frigid waters of the lake. Maybe fifteen minutes? She figured that they could swim perhaps two or three hundred meters in that time, if they could survive the water landing unhurt and get out of the glider quickly. Sharon was confident she could get them at least that close to the shore. Then she wondered if there would be people at the resort to help them when they came ashore. The lights were on; did that mean people were there? Just in case there was no one to help them, Sharon decided, she should try to bring the small survival kit with her even though it would slow her swimming down. They were only a hundred meters above the lake now and not yet halfway across it.

“I think we’re going to have to swim for it,” Sharon said. “How good of a swimmer are you?”

“Not very good,” Chief Tyrol answered. “I barely passed the swim test in basic.”

Sharon didn’t say anything for several seconds. She didn’t think she could reach shore pulling him along, too. He was going to die. He was going to die because of her stupid mistake and the only way she would survive is by leaving him behind. Kara Thrace’s words came echoing back in her mind, “You go fraternizing around with another crewman and the next thing you know you’re all moony eyed for him… you start thinking with your hormones instead of your head then you’re gonna get people killed. If you’re lucky then that someone will only be you.”

Sharon made up her mind; she wasn’t going to leave him. She’d stay with Chief Tyrol after the water landing, pull him along as far as her strength would allow, and they’d freeze to death together. Maybe they’d make it, Sharon hoped. Maybe they’d land close enough to shore for her to make the swim with him. She checked their altitude again and rate of descent. She looked at the fishing resort on the lake shore. It was closer now. She could see details on the large log-cabin style lodge and an unimproved grass air strip that came right to the lake’s edge. But it was still too far away.

In her mind’s eye she could see how it was going to happen. She imagined the glider slamming into the water like her Raptor slamming into the Galactica’s landing bay, the long delicate wings ripping off of the sailplane. They’d pop the canopy open and tumble out into the icy lake while the glider filled with water. The bitter cold sapping her strength as she held onto Chief Tyrol and struggled toward the too distant shore…

“No,” Sharon thought, “That’s not right. I always make perfect landings in a sailplane. It’s only spacecraft landings that give me problems.” Airplane wings provide lift by generating a bubble of high pressure air underneath them. When an airplane nears the ground that bubble gets trapped between the wings and the ground and the wings generate much more lift than they do when the airplane is at high altitude. In a sailplane, with its huge wings and lightweight structure, this ground-effect lift is even more pronounced than on a normal aircraft. Inexperienced pilots often overshoot their runways when their glider descends normally until it is a few meters above the ground and then seemingly refuses to go any lower as the air bubble under it hits the ground and carries the glider along much further than they had anticipated. Sharon never had this problem, because she knew the trick to landing a sailplane; you just fly it into the ground. She would fly it like she was going to slam it into the runway and trust that at the last second the air bubble under the glider will contact the ground and the lifting efficiency of the wings will suddenly skyrocket, causing her sailplane to make a gentle touchdown right where it should.

“Well, I guess I’ll have to land us on the shore then,” Sharon said. She pushed the controls forward and put the glider into a dive. Her speed rapidly increased as she converted her remaining altitude into velocity.

“Hey… What?” Chief Tyrol said as he gripped the armrests tightly. “What are you doing?”

Sharon leveled the sailplane out twenty meters above the lake at a speed of over two hundred kilometers an hour. They skimmed along above the frigid lake on a bubble of air, their speed slowly decreasing but without losing any altitude. “We’re in ground effect,” Sharon said, grinning ecstatically. “I know what I’m doing.”

Sharon landed the glider on the airstrip ten meters from the lake shoreline. They bounced down the runway for another couple hundred meters and rolled to a stop. Sharon popped the canopy open and was the first one to get out. Her legs felt rubbery and her first few steps seemed awkward. Chief Tyrol was having problems unbuckling his harness and she had to help him unlatch it before he could climb out of the sailplane cockpit.

Sharon smiled at Chief Tyrol and said simply, “We’re alive.”

He nodded back as he took her into his arms and said back to her, “We are alive.”

Sharon Valerii and Chief Tyrol were so lost in the passion of their kiss that they did not notice the crowd of people coming out of the fishing lodge to greet them or that a light, icy rain had begun to fall.

The End.

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 Post subject: Re: First Date
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 4:52 pm 
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rebelliousrose wrote:
I am interested to see where you are going, Chris, but more interested in the inevitable explanation of what died up Starbuck's ass.


I'm sorry to dissapoint you that there is no more about Starbuck's guilt in this fic. You're correct, however, that the first scene was foreshadowing for something later. It's just that that chapter was written to be a scene (and still is) in Obstinate Tin Soldier. I liked it so much that I wrote Boomer and Tyrol's date as a separate fic but (on SabaceanBabe's advice) didn't include the glider bits in OTS so as not to bog down the plot. If you want the payoff that Kara's bitchiness is a build-up to, I'm afraid you're going to have to become an Obstinate Tin Soldier reader.

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 Post subject: Re: First Date
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 12:20 am 
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Very enjoyable. :bow:

Well crafted. Lots of good solid information that leads you through the whole event, like one of those Discovery channel documentaries. I especially liked Tyrol's realization that they were "topping out."

Added Note: Thanks for posting this in response to my question. :cheer:


Last edited by NT2 on Tue Jul 14, 2009 8:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: First Date
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 7:56 am 
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Your stories are always well documented and it prompted me to research further about ground effect. Again I've learned a lot of things thanks to you ;) . For those interested : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_effect_in_aircraft


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 Post subject: Re: First Date
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:32 pm 
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NT2 wrote:
Very interesting description of the flight problems. Almost reads like one of those real-life adventure stories.


Well I wrote the story exactly the way Mrs. Tyrol told it to me. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: First Date
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 5:09 pm 
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Chris Taylor wrote:
NT2 wrote:
Very interesting description of the flight problems. Almost reads like one of those real-life adventure stories.


Well I wrote the story exactly the way Mrs. Tyrol told it to me. ;)


Any chance you could get an interview with her about her days as Empress? ;)


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 Post subject: Re: First Date
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 8:16 pm 
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Since people enjoyed this one, I've reposted the sequel to it, First Date 2: The Agathons, in which the Helo and Athena have a first date crisis of their own to deal with. :twisted: It's over in the Agathons Fanfic section now.

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