Players; This page is intended for GM's to understand backgrounds that should be beyond the PC's scope of knowledge. As such, you're cheating yourself (-50 XP per detail) if you use this knowledge. You've been warned.
     The party started as they always do; A little light drinking, a little light music, everybody having a great old time. It wasn't long until it got a little bit more carried away. Bill had been enjoying himself, after all he'd never been to a keger before and he had very little knowledge of what would happen. He had heard that "sex" was part of it but he still wasn't quite sure what sex was. After a couple hours Bill wandered into one of the back berthing units. There he saw two of the members he knew one was a Seaman SMITH and the other was Petty Officer WELL. He looked for just a second and could see that she was rubbing herself on his bottom while he was bent over. "Excuse me sorry" he said and backed out quickly as WELL tried to say something.
     Bill didn't give it a second thought for a few days until he heard it a pipe; "Now Cadet CUSHING, your presence is requested by the commanding officer, Cadet CUSHING 2000."
     I wonder what this could be about out Bill thought as he wandered away to the Captain's office. Three quick raps at the door were met by a bark: "ENTER!"
     With that Bill walked right on in as if he owned the place, stood at attention and annouce "Cadet CUSHING reported as ordered sir!"
     The captain looked at another RDF officer, a lieutenant commander by the look of her. "Cadet at ease." With a big sigh the captain continued; "Cadet we have a little bit of an issue here right now and we need you to tell the truth."
     "Yes of course Captain."
     With that the Captain continued, "Commander please."
     The Commander turned towards Bill and addressed him "Cadet my name is Maria GONZELEZ-ORTIGEZ. I'm a Lieutenant Commander with the Judge Advocate General's office. It is my understanding that you witnessed something at a party last week."
     Bill stood there confuse. "Uh um ma ma'am I I witnessed a lot of things at the party you have to be a little more specific please."
     With that the Commander turned in her seat completely facing him; "A rape Cadet. You witnessed a rape. Did you or did you not?"
     "No no no no no ma'am no oh oh no I didn't see anything like that, no."
     The Commander crossed her arms underneath her breasts, looked to the cadet and said "Did you see Seaman SMITH and Petty Officer WELL together at any point that night?"
     Bill thought for a moment "Well yes ma'am just for a moment though."
     "Well ma'am I saw her rubbing her groin on his bottom while he was bent over a rack."
     "Is that all you saw Cadet?"
     "Yes Ma'am why I, I'm conf confused ma..."
     With that the Commander turned back to the Captain. "Captain I think we have another one."
     The Captain leaned his elbows on the desk tipped his head almost vertical parallel to it and said "Yeah yeah another one. Okay Commander he's all yours."
     The Commander turned back towards the Cadet. "You are not to speak of any of this to anyone at any time unless specifically directed to do so. If anybody asks you are to direct them to me personally do you understand?"
     "Yes ma'am of course."
     "Very well Cadet. Please sit" she said much more kindly. With that the Cadet sat down turning facing fully towards the commander; His eyes drifted across her breasts for a moment and then back to her face. The Commander took a deep breath and then began; "Cadet, Petty Officer WELL has accused Seaman SMITH of rape to be perfectly blunt and we think you witnessed it."
     The Cadet sat there dumbstruck. "Uh no ma'am I didn't see anything even vaguely like that."
     "Cadet, please tell me in deepest possible detail what you think you saw."
     With that the Cadet sat up straight eyes fixed absolutely forward in the position of attention and began. "I opened the door to the berthing unit about an hour hour and a half into the party I'm not exactly sure. I saw Seaman SMITH standing behind Petty Officer WELL. She seemed to be rubbing herself on his posterior while he was leaning forward. Oh I think I recall that he was biting down on something." With that the Commander looked to the Captain.
     That drove the Captain to look at the Cadet. "Did you see her wearing anything else at all? Please be specific."
     The Cadet sat there a moment. "Um yes yes I recall she was wearing a a tool belt but with no tools."
     The Commander sat up straight and her eyes bulged out of her head. "She was wearing a what?"
     "A tool belt with no tools ma'am."
     "Oh" the Captain said very softly from his own side of the desk.
     "I'm sorry that's all I recall now, and Petty Officer WELL tried to say something but he had that silly thing in his mouth." With that the Captain and the Commander both remained absolutely silent. "Will that be all?" the Cadet finally asked, annoyed at the interruption.
     "No Cadet that will not be all" the Commander growled annoyed at his insolence. The Captain growled as if annoyed at the question as well. "Captain I think I should take the Cadet aside for a moment I don't think he understands what he thinks he knows."
     "Please do Commander please do and please keep me informed of any other updates in this case."
     "Yes of course Captain. Cadet please follow me. "With that the Commander stood to follow her. The Commander led the Cadet out of the office and into a side office normally the ship's office. It was empty at this time even though it should not have been. "Please sit down." The Commander spoke calmly. With that she opened a file and pulled out a picture of a strange harness with a strange metal circle in the front. "Does this look anything like the thing you saw Petty Officer, uh Seaman SMITH rather wearing?"
     The Cadet looked at the picture for a moment. "Yes, kind of. I really don't understand any of this..."
     "Cadet please don't interrupt me."
     "Yes ma'am."
     "Cadet, do you know what a strapon is?"
     With that the Cadet's face contorted in thought. "No ma'am, I've never heard of anything, I've never heard that word before in my life. Is it anything like a toolkit ma'am?"
     The Lieutenant Commander let out a sigh. "Something like that you could say Cadet. Um oh dear I've got to teach you about birds and bees do I?"
     "No ma'am they gave us the sex safety class several times."
     With that the Commander chuckled softly. "They didn't quite tell you everything Cadet. A strapon is a thing that women can use to simulate being a man." The Cadet sat there for a moment looking around his perplexion obvious. With that the Commander pulled out another picture a woman wearing the harness with a dildo in place. "One of these Cadet." The Cadet looked at the picture and his eyes opened much wider.
     "Ma'am I I I don't know anything about this..."
     "Cadet it's alleged that Seaman SMITH used this very device on Petty Officer WELL."
     "How ma'am?"
     "In his anus."
     "Oh my" the Cadet said, suddenly realizing what it was he had seen. "Ma'am I I swear I didn't know..."
     "It's all right Cadet, your absolute innocence in this, your absolute lack of knowledge is the best tool we have, but we need you to keep to one story. You walked in, you saw what you saw you walked out and you didn't make any connection until later. Do you understand?"
     "Yes yes ma'am, yes!"
     "Cadet when this is all said and done I'm going to have to have a much longer talk with you."
     "Yes of course ma'am."
     "In the meantime I'm not here as an investigator."
     "I'm here as your representative, your advocate Cadet."
     "I, I don't understand now."
     "It was thought before that you might have been utterly naive about this matter and your naivety would do our case great deal of help but only if you really didn't understand what it was you saw. Now that we know you didn't you need a representative, somebody to protect you from the defense attorneys once that time comes."
     "Oh. Yes ma'am of course I understand."
     "You do what I say from here on out do you understand?"
     "Yes ma'am of course. I want to do the right thing."
     "Good. Good that's a good thing Cadet. All right you are to speak to no one at any time in this process understand?"
     "Yes ma'am."
     "If anybody asks you, you are to direct them to me and me alone."
     "Yes ma'am."
     "My card Cadet." With that the Cadet took the proffered card, putting it in his wallet. "A little bit of luck this will all be over in two weeks and you'll be back to your life as normal."
     "Yes ma'am thank you." A week later the Commander came by the Cadet's berthing. "Ma'am um you know you're not supposed to be in here unless you're on an inspection."
     "Correct yes Cadet. I have special dispensation and the door is to be left open per regulations. Is anybody else in here?"
     "No ma'am."
     "I'm here to talk to you about the case that you're supposed to testify in."
     "Oh oh yes ma'am yes of course."
     "We're going to need you to give a deposition under oath. You're scheduled for tomorrow morning. With a little bit of luck that's the end of it the case will be closed after that."
     "Thank you ma'am."
     "Also Cadet I need you to uh answer a couple questions for me."
     "Oh yes of course ma'am."
     "Where exactly did you come from?"
     "Ma'am I was homeless I don't even know what nationality I am. In fact I don't even think I legally have a nationality at this point."
     "I see and when did you come aboard the SDF-1?"
     "With the space fold mishap."
     "I see. And when did you arrive at Macross Island?"
     "Uh ma'am I just sort of floated in on one or another ship and I just don't even know. I lived on the streets of Macross the entire time. You could tell me six months or you could tell me 10 years I wouldn't know."
     "I see, I see, okay well that should be the last of my questions for the moment. After this is all wrapped up I will have some more things to discuss with you but in the meantime Cadet thank you for your time."
     "Yes ma'am thank you." And with that the Commander left.
     A couple of weeks later another pipe came; "Now Cadet CUSHING lay to the commanding officer's office, Cadet CUSHING, 2000."
     The Cadet did as ordered. Inside he found the Captain and the Lieutenant Commander. "Captain, Commander how may I help you?"
     "I have excellent news for you Commander GONZELEZ-ORTIGEZ intoned.
     "Yes ma'am?"
     "A plea agreement has been reached the Seaman has agreed to certain punitive actions which I'm not going to get into. You're done."
     "Oh that's excellent ma'am thank you ma'am."
     "Cadet" the Captain added "the Commander here has some uh issues that she needs to clear up related to your case."
     "My case sir?"
     "Yes uh the Commander will cover it. I think you have everything well in hand, you can use my office." At that the Captain stood up and walked out. Bill stood there a little confused.
     "Cadet please sit down. In the process of backgrounding you in order to be sure that there wasn't something that the defense could use against you to impeach your testimony I came across several irregularities."
     "Yes ma'am?"
     "Cadet you don't exist before two before one year ago. You do not exist in any way shape or form."
     Bill thought about this for a moment; A year ago was when he'd come on board the SDF-1. "Ma'am I don't know where this is going."
     "Cadet a lot of people think you're an alien infiltrator." The word hit Bill like a ton of bricks. "Now my background into you suggest that it might be true." Again another ton of bricks. With that the Lieutenant Commander pulled two files from her briefcase. "Which one would you like me to turn in Cadet?"
     "The Cadet looked at her. "I don't understand ma'am."
     "One of these files says that it's very possible that you are an infiltrator and you will be shot." That set Bill absolutely upright. "The other says that you are a homeless person of Unknown Origin but probably a Britain or an American, possibly Australian by some of the intonations in your inflection and that you simply don't know where you come from but your file completely checks out. There's even a record of you in Los Angeles California a year and a half before your supposed arrival on Macross Island."
     "I see ma'am."
     "It even says that you were aboard one of the many shit freighters that arrived on Macross Island in one particular month. Your story is safe. Do you see where this is going Cadet?"
     "You will make my entire existence and nobody will think I'm a Tsentraedi anymore."
     "That's right Cadet that's exactly right. I want something in return."
     "Yes ma'am?"
     "You are going to be my boyfriend for at least as long as we're still on this ship."
     Bill turned and looked at her aghast. "Really?" he asked, absolutely startled.
     The Commander leaned back a little. "What? You don't like what you see here?"
     Bill's voice began to shake; His whole chest began to flutter. "Uh uh oh oh Ma'am I, I do" he answered, scanning her body very care carefully, "but I uh..."
     "Good then Cadet" she interrupted, rubbing her finger along the bottom of his chin. "You will be my boyfriend, this file" she held up one of the files "will find itself in a shredder, and this file" she said holding up the other "will tell the entire world that you were in Los Angeles just what was it? Uh three years ago now. And oh this is the real kicker, there's actually a citation which you have not yet paid for vagrancy and camping inside city limits."
     "What does that mean ma'am?"
     "It means you're homeless and uh you're probably wanted... Although it'll be an infraction we can make that go away faster than you could even understand the concept Cadet."
     "Oh oh he" said with another slight chuckle, "and all I have to do is be your boyfriend" he said hopefully
     "Don't you want to know why I chose you?"
     Bill sat there for a moment "A little bit maybe?"
     "Because Cadet, my husband left me for another man."
     With that Bill recoiled very slightly "Oh oh um I-I see ma'am. I'm sorry."
     "Something like that does something to any woman. I want you to take his place. Part of my offer Cadet is I will teach you everything about the birds and the bees, including things that you don't necessarily need to know. I will not teach you about pegging hands on, but I will explain it to you in a little while."
     Bill sat there for a long moment. Once the revulsion he clearly felt had passed over, he answered, "Sign me up."
     "Good good. There's a program where members of the community can adopt Cadets give them a place to stay overnight on liberty. I can sign up for the program and you can be moved in by the end of the week."
     "And it won't affect my training ma'am."
     "It shouldn't except in so far as you might decide to become an attorney rather than a fighter pilot" she teased.
     "No ma'am I don't think that'll happen but I'm all in."
     "Good Cadet good. I expect to see you tonight. Here's my information."
     "Uh ma'am I I can't make it tonight."
     "Oh poo I was so hoping. Well I expect to see you by the end this week" she added this time a threatening tone in her voice.
     "Oh yes ma'am I uh I I'll be there." I have a girlfriend thought Bill thought over the course of the next six months. Maria did everything she promised- She even would watch porn with him just so he would understand some of the more "curious basics" of what she was trying to talk about. While he watched she would stroke him either with her hand or with her mouth; She made him participate in everything at least once that a single man and a single woman could do together, with the exception of anything to do with strapons, although they did watch a video once just to know just so he would know what it was- And she performed fellatio during the watching of that video. It was clear to both of them that he was as interested as she was.
     "If only I'd done that to my husband I might not be single now" she had growled afterwards. "Guess I'm better off."
     The two of them were often seen inside Macross City, but it was all completely acceptable because she was after all his program sponsor. As her as his sponsor she was also given special dispensation to teach him manners- In fact that was how she argued to get into the program. Bill, being a homeless person before joining the RDF, was clearly not as socially sophisticated as his classmates. She would teach him manners, he would learn. It was actually kind of as simple as that.
     Cadet CUSHING approached the door and knocked as hard as he could; After a few minutes the door opened. On the other side was an RDF Aerospace General. His name tag read BILLS. "Come in Cadet." The General's British accent was unmistakable.
     "Sir, Cadet CUSHING Reporting As Ordered."
     "At ease Cadet. Relax. You're not in class at the moment, and I don't want you sounding off in here."
     "Sir?" the Cadet responded confused.
     "Some of the equipment in here is sensitive. I don't know what it'll do if you upset it. Until you go back out that door, that's an order." After a moment's pause he continued. "Cadet, you impressed a couple of the engineers with your observations on T'sentraedi equipment. How did you come to the idea that knee actuators would lock up at flank speed like they apparently do?"
     "Sir, I thought like they would, they're an army constantly on the march. Logistics would be difficult, so degradation would be inevitable. At low level use the damage wouldn't be noticeable, but under extended intense use breakdown would be a matter of time."
     "Well good job Cadet. It's gotten you a new job." With that, the General opened a non-tight door and led the Cadet in. That's when he saw the thing- A collection of a trash can, a red ball, and what looked like scavenged vehicle windows and a television set. "This is Thunder Road. As you can see, it's not much to look at at all, but we are terrified of it because we don't know what it is."
     The Cadet began walking around the artifact. "Is there anything we do know as of now sir?"
     "No. Or more to the point, here's what we do know; Ben CRANDALL, Wolfgang MULLER, and Darren or Darrel WOOD or WOODS, we're not sure about him too much, built this thing somewhere around 1982 or '83. We know from police reports that the thing flew, one of the cops who tried to intercept it admitted to us that he'd wished them luck when he failed to stop them.
     "A few years later, the American Air Force recovered the vehicle from a location. We've been working with them since, trying to figure it out. CRANDALL reportedly drew a diagram of the circuit board and showed it to MULLER who built the microchip, which upon testing generated an electromagnetic bubble which surrounds a pre-determined area capable of moving near-limitless distances and 'extremely great' speeds. One of the boys became trapped in the bubble and discovered it was completely airtight, but as he moved in it he did not feel any effects of inertia."
     "No effect sir?" the Cadet parroted, incredulous.
     "We're still looking into that Cadet, we haven't gotten it working yet." With that he moved on; "After this, they recruited WOOD for access to a junkyard. They built this platform from a wrecked Tilt-A-Whirl car and the various junk you see here. Our problem Cadet is we can't get it running, so we're not entirely sure what it can do. And that's why you're here."
     The cadet looked at the General for a moment, then turned to the craft. "How do I get inside sir?" The General opened the hatch and the Cadet climbed in, a tight fit. "They must have been rather short men, sir" he observed.
     "They were teenagers Cadet."
     "Oh I see." the Cadet looked around a moment, then asked "Where is this city like board sir?"
     "It's on another bench." With that the Cadet hopped out, clearly happy to get away from the confining space, and the General led him to the bench were the circuit board was resting.
     The Cadet grabbed a magnification headband and adjust the distance and magnification. After looking over the circuit board for several minutes he announced "I don't see any problems with the board that would cause it to fail, but it's not hooked up to a power source." Pointing to a spot on the board he continued on "I think this is were the power source should be connected."
     The General looked at the Cadet for a moment, then replied "You passed that test Cadet. Can you reconnect it?"
     "If I have the power connector, yes sir."
     "It's in a drawer to your right." The Cadet looked at the drawers indicated, opening them one at a time until he found what he thought would be the correct piece. "Yes, that's it." The Cadet turned to the board and placed the connector on the board the way that looked correct.
     "This would seem to be it sir. Solder it, and find a power source, and we're in business."
     The General smiled and reached over to solder the board. "It took me an hour to unsolder this Cadet."
     "I didn't want to break something sir."
     "Oh no Cadet, I wouldn't have let you. Maybe you would have gotten it right, but if you didn't I'd be in very big trouble." With that the General connected a keyboard to the circuit board and powered the system up. A semi-transparent blue bubble about 3 inches in diameter appeared. "Alright here's how to move the bubble." The General began instructing the Cadet on piloting the bubble; Early moves were horrible, with one serious crash into a bulkhead hard enough to dent armored plating. "That's ok Cadet, I've done worse. Keep going." After about 15 minutes CUSHING was flying the bubble like an ace.
     "Alright Cadet, we've tested the device to breaking. I've been inside the bubble, the circuit board generates air while the bubble itself generates both lift and thrust. We fired a variety of weapons at it, it seemed to shrug them all off. We put a camera and Geiger counter in it, placed it in a tunnel being used in a nuclear test with a recorder. After the test, the bubble was brought back, the camera showed continuous recording and the Geiger counter showed very low levels of radiation penetrating- Bad, but well within survivable levels, roughly equivalent to being 12 miles away. If treated immediately, the pilot would fully recover."
     "It slices, it dices it purees sir."
     "Sarcasm isn't helpful here, Cadet."
     "I apologize, sir, sarcasm wasn't my intention."
     "What was?"
     "Shocked admiration, sir. Shomiriation sir? That's not a things sir, but I feel like it should be."
     "Understood, Cadet. We know essentially everything we need to know at this point."
     "Sir, why am I here if you don't seem to need me?"
     "Because we do, Cadet. We need two things, someone to test fly a CRADALL-MULLER-WOOD drive equipped Veritech and, if it's successful, to begin a program to mass produce them." The General's answer sounded like a death sentence; Nevertheless, the Cadet's eye gleams.
     "Where's my fighter sir?" he answered, the smile fighting to escape.
     "I was hoping you'd say yes, Cadet." A bulkhead section opened up silently, and with it the Cadet could see the fighter, an orange highlighted D version. The General began moving towards the opening with the Cadet in tow. "This is one of only three Veritechs quite like this, a two seat Delta airframe with a quad head Sierra head." The Cadet's head snapped towards the General in surprise; The S head was reserved for Squadron commanders. "And this is, as of now, the only one with the CMW drive."
     "I see sir. Who will be my instructor?"
     "I will be riding the #2 seat..." the General began.
     "That's not possible, sir, it's too dangerous."
     "Boy, I was flying F-105's over the 'Nam before you were born, don't you tell ME I can't fly bitch on your, or should I say MY, ship. I'll be along for the ride to collect data. As long as we're in the air, she's yours, just follow the flight plan you were given."
     "Uh, yes sir" the Cadet responded admonished. "When do we launch?"
     "The day after tomorrow, zero eight hundred. Be here."
     "Aye aye, sir."
     On the morning of the flight Wild Bill stood in the hangar bay, waiting for the General to arrive. He'd confirmed the day before the flight plan; There was no mistake. After 15 minutes, a Chief Aviation's Boatswain walked up. "You Cadet CUSHING?" he asked.
     "Yes Chief."
     "Your ride won't be making it. I don't know why, I just got word. You're flying solo today. Your bird's all checked out, she's ready to go as soon as you are."
     "Thank you Chief." The Cadet turned to the stall were his fighter was parked; A couple of enlisted were making the final checkout and fueling. 'Six months ago, I'd be scorning these people as mere technical; now I venerate them' the Cadet thought as he walked up. It was an odd feeling to him, but here he was doing IT and more importantly LIKING IT.
     "Cadet, your bird's all good to go as soon as we can disconnect shore power" the female Seaman called out as she closed the cover for the fuel port. Another crewmember called out from the top of the fighter where the Cadet couldn't see "Gimme five seconds to climb out kid." A moment later the man, presumably a petty officer from the quick flash of color on his collar, climbed out. "Alright, the gear's hooked up as instructed. What is all that stuff anyways, uh, Mister?" he asked leading.
     "Cadet CUSHING, Petty Officer- Ah Petty Officer WELL. Thank you both, as to the new gear, I don't really know just something the engineers want tested."
     "They modified a Delt with Commander's head to test new toys?" the Seaman asked.
     It was now that the Cadet could see her name tape, STRECK. "Yes, Seaman STRECK, and no I don't know why."
     "It's actually Airman sir. Supply screwed up her unis and won't fix it until Personnel send over the documentation or some shit sir."
     "My apologies Airman."
     The Airman waived it off. "Everyone does it sir. Anyways, good luck on- Whatever this is."
     "Ya, happy hunting or something sir."
     Wild Bill climbed up into the cockpit; WELL stood by to direct him out. Preflight checklist went quickly, all systems appeared to operating properly. Engine start up rolled though as if the plane wanted to get in the air; the Cadet thought on this a moment, the novelty of running standard jet engines, in a vacuum, on a plane that fundamentally should not need them. He shook his head at it all as he sealed up his E-Suit, then gave the Petty Officer a thumbs up; The Petty Officer responded with a hand out for stop as we watched something in the cross traffic. Within moments another Veritech went rolling by, one CUSHING hadn't seen before; It had some sort of boxy pack on the dorsal side, and "funny" looking legs. He couldn't help but wonder what they were testing with that, unless it was "how to crash a fighter."
     With the other fighter out of the way, WELL signaled forward and to Wild Bill's right, which the Cadet already knew to be the direction of the catapult. Catapults weren't strictly speaking necssary here; They gave the fighters additional thrust that wasn't actually needed, but pilots flew as they trained, and they'd been training nearly 100 years on catapults. The Cadet queued up for his launch; As the other fighters cleared away he hooked up, checked his connections, grabbed the left hand grip as he saluted, then grabbed the right grip and waited for the shooter to punch it. It wasn't long at all, his hand had barely brushed the grip as he felt the 3 g force of power shock his body with the catapult, one of the new electromagnetic ones, throw him out the side to the ship. Above him was the third planet of this system, the one the humans called home- Earth. He glanced up at the beautiful blue-brown-white ball, which reminded him of other worlds he'd... His mind snapped back fast. The flight plan was to accelerate away from the ship of a routine long range patrol, once beyond immediate sensor range to punch the button that would engage the experimental drive. As the distance ticked up, the Cadet felt his anxiety growing. This was an experimental drive, anything could happen... Including that it worked exactly as expected. As the radar range indicator shifted showing he'd gotten to the distance... He hit the button. The blue ball appeared around him instantly. Everyone from her to Jurruuqi can see me he thought, but nobody seemed to notice, or they didn't care. A slight forward throttle brought the ship forward; A slight up angle shifted her nose up. Increasing the thrusters increased her speed- It was if nothing had changed at all. He decided to test the thinking cap's effects on the fighter, and all seemed to be working well. With a quick glance back at the ship, as if to confirm nobody could see him, he accelerated forward, piloting a course to Saturn, the only place he'd seen the ship from the outside before joining the RDF.
     After about 3 hours he was deep in the rings; Sure enough, there was a familiar rock; He remembered seeing this very rock some 2 years ago under more than slightly diffrent circumstances. He looked at it a long moment, remembering that day, then snapped back to reality. Twisting and turning through the ring, he saw the debris of the battle there; Broken battle pods, broken Veritechs- Broken Veritech pilots. A moment of guilt washed over him but he continued on with the mission. Saturn hadn't been the flight plan- Mars was. But Wild Bill couldn't help himself, he had to come here. A circumnavigation of the planet through the ring, with it's myriad of dust, rocks, and debris would prove an able test for the barrier field, and he'd already thought of his cover story- He'd simply miscalculated the course. It was a new technology after all; Perhaps the equipment was the problem, though he was prepared to take the abuse of pilot error. And with any luck, General BILLS would either be so happy it worked or so worried about a leak he'd sweep it under the carpet. After about 15 minutes he'd completed the circle- It was time to head back.
     Another 3 hour transit later place him back in Earth orbit and closing with the SDF-1. "SDF-1, SDF-1, this is Tango One Five, come in please" he called out on the radio.
     "Tango One Five, this is SDF-1 Control. We've been trying to reach you over an hour, where have you been?"
     "Roger SDF-1, I lost all power about a half hour into my patrol, everything just sort of came back on line about 15 or 20 minutes ago. I was drifting for a long time and have been trying to work my way back here. Over."
     "Roger one five, do you want to declare an emergency?"
     "Roger SDF, I'd like to get back on deck asap."
     "Roger that one five, approach prometheus side, we'll clear the mecha bay for you. Golf Two Two, Gulf Two Two, SDF-1, Tango One Five has declared an emergency, can you escort him in?"
     "Roger that SDF, we're already on our way to meet him." The Cadet suddenly remembered the experimental drive was still engaged and shut it down quickly. He didn't want anyone to see it until the General was ready to show it to everyone. A moment later two Veritechs appeared on his port bow, one high and one low. "Hey there Wild Bill" one of the fighters called out. "You've had everyone kind of worried for a while."
     "I'm right with you Golf Two Two. I was afraid I'd have to set fire to this thing if it didn't come back."
     "Any idea what happened?"
     "Negative. She just shut down, then restarted as if she just wanted to."
     "Had you tried emergency restart procedures?"
     The Cadet already knew what the flight data recorder would tell the investigators, but he was hedging his bets anyways. "Affirmative, I think I might need some specialist assistance on what went wrong here." That would alert the General to personally come look at the fighter. It was already going to happen that way anyways, but he didn't want to risk the General not coming down; If the plane was declared "special damage/unknown," no one below the rank of Colonel could touch it until at least a 2 star had signed off, and not even just any two star- Even Captain GLOVAL himself couldn't touch the plane, except in the event of an attack.
     "Roger one five. Let's get you back on deck for now." Ten minutes later the fighter was back on deck getting griped down. Two Marines in the RDF's heavy plated battle armor approached.
     "No need for a security detail Marines. Nobody's touching this thing under any circumstances" the Cadet informed them.
     "Order from Captain GLOVAL himself. We're to stand guard until someone arrives to secure the plane, he said we'd be informed who as soon as he knew."
     "Oh, well in that case do your duty. Uh, I mean, carry on." The Marines began following the plane as she was towed back to the SDF's main hanger. The Cadet, for his part, began heading to where the General's offices were, knocking at the main entrance. This time a woman in civilian clothes met him.
     "Who are you?" she asked.
     "Uh, Cadet CUSHING ma'am. I'm supposed to meet with General BILLS."
     "Well good luck with that, Cadet. Bob had a heart attack this morning. He's in infirmary 15."
     "Then who are you and what are you doing in his compartment?"
     "I'm here collecting his paperwork. Captain GLOVAL sent me."
     "I'll just ask him about that, won't I?" the Cadet demanded as he pushed his way in. The woman provided very little resistance but some surprise. Wild Bill picked up the ship's service phone and dialed the Command Tower from memory- 200. "this is Cadet CUSHING, I'm in general BILL'S compartment aaa... Oh." Turning to the woman he asked "What's your name?"
     "Annette JACOBS, Mister CUSHING" she answered defiantly.
     "Annette JACOBS? ... Oh. Where is the General? ... Oh. I see. ... Yes, thank you." Turning to the woman he continued, "I apologize for that, ma'am. I was not told, I thought you might be a spy."
     "It's aright Cadet, I was just a little started that you grabbed my breast like that."
     The Cadet went pale. "Uh, oh, ma'am, I'm very very sorry, I didn..."
     "Well- It's over now, Cadet. I guess some confusion wasn't entirely out of order." She was hiding a bit of a smirk behind her annoyance, as if, upon reflection, it was quite alright after all.
     "I'll just head up to the see the General then, ma'am you are free to whatever you need to do."
     "Thank you Cadet. Please inform dad I'll see him when I can."
     "Yes, the General is my step father."
     "I will be sure to do so ma'am." With that the Cadet beat a hasty retreat out of the compartment and up to the infirmary; but upon arrival the nurses refused to allow him to go any further.
     "The General isn't doing well. You can only see him for a few minutes."
     The Cadet entered quietly, but the General was awake. "I guess those old Thuds didn't prepare me like I thought they would" he said softly. "Did you get it?"
     "I'm sorry sir, I made a mistake. I plotted the wrong course in, and ended up at Saturn."
     The General looked at the Cadet for a moment, then waved a hand closer. "I know aout you, Mister CUSHING. Everyone does. It's a joke you know."
     "What about me sir?" Wild Bill responded.
     "You're one of them, William. That's why I selected you. Your expendable. Damned good on you that you made it back, though. Be careful. Never tell anyone. Until you've been in that uniform a long time, don't tell, and maybe no one will find out. Never tell anyone about the fighter. Nobody will believe you anyways, and then you'll be sent up for a psych and you won't be able to hide it."
     "I don't understand sir, what are you talking about?"
     "I may not have long left for this world, so I don't have time for your games. You want to play human, ok. for now everyone's willing to paly along with you. Just don't screw it up, zintrudi." With that, the General leaned back on his gurney. "I think you should leave now, and think about what I've said."
     "Uh, yes, sir. Uh, your step daughter said she'd come up when she could."
     "Thank you, Mister CUSHING. I appreciate you passing that along."
     "Sir, what's going to happen to your project?"
     "Someone will be assigned to it. For the moment, take the ship itself back to my lab... What squadron are you in again?"
     "VPB-6 sir."
     "Right, 'Traedi patrol. A bit of irony there, don't you think?" he growled. The Cadet didn't answer that. "In the meantime" he continued a bit more kindly "you head on back. I've commended you for your assistance on the project."
     "Thank you sir." With that the Cadet about faced and headed out, the entire escapade fading away from his mind.

     The ASF is a 1/1 replica of the US Air Force, but with severe restrictions (they don't exactly have a lot of aircraft carriers). The most glaring restriction at the moment is their lack of ability to project power much further than off-world on the few worlds that are settled. The ASF has been trying to change this by acquiring an FTL equipped fleet of ships; this will come to fruition in the 27th century, first with two ships then with a fleet of 144 ships, and eventually one ship to each UGC Fleet. In keeping with UGC MAF protocols, the AeroSpace Forces will be assigned in matching numbers to the fleets. The Spacy in particular is unhappy about this, since power projection has been their niche, but the ASF is not getting spacefold equipped ships so the objections while serious are limited. The vast majority of the ships will remain with the Patrol (despite being smaller overall, the Patrol has much smaller ships, with much smaller crews, and therefore more ships; by tonnage and firepower the Spacy utterly dwarfs the Patrol). This is an attempt at a power play on budgets, and while it will eventually succeed that 'victory' will be limited by the sheer bulk of the Spacy; One spacy task force could easily be bigger than the entire ASF (if the ASDF's aren't included).