Pegasus Run 3305 - Test Flight
I left Robbins a mildly humorous message about mid day yesterday to give him time to make arrangements and prep for the trip. Based on the assumption he'd be coming, that is.
"Escape pod lady here: If you are still interested in demanding a ride along, make your arrangements with your employ and meet me at hangar bay 36 tomorrow morning for a short shakedown run. Plan for two days. Pre-checks at 0600, hope to be out the gate by oh-7"
Within moments I got back, "!! Already packed."
Well, at least it wasn't, "Who is this?" or "<expletive>, <expletive>".
Arrived at the ship at about 0515 and went directly upstairs to bring the power plant output up and start warming up the Alcubierre drive, which was never technically offline except for maintenance or emergencies. Just idle. The power plant was also a very necessary step in firing up Bessie, the very best MkII steam centrifuge coffee maker in the 'verse.
Once I had drawn a cup, I grabbed a checklist and made my way down to start the exterior walk around early. I'd done the initial acceptance inspection with the yards yesterday, to be sure everything was tightened down and all their tools, rags, etc. accounted for rather than laying around in voids mucking up the works. So this morning's walk around, while still fairly routine, would be a bit above and beyond the checklist requirements.
Robbins didn't disappoint. I'd only finished the first 3 checklist items when the far hatch opened and he stepped through, dressed smartly in a grey flight suit and jacket with a travel duffel over one shoulder. He dogged the hatch behind him and walked towards me, the whole time staring at my ship in amazement.
He stopped at the nose truck I was inspecting, still looking up. "A Corvette! You brought that all the way here? What's it's range?"
"44 light years and some change. Yes, I 'brought' it a lot of places, and then I flew here to get some work done before I go out again."
"Amazing. Love the paint scheme. There are Corvettes here and there in Colonia but this is my first time actually seeing one."
He paused a moment taking it all in, then he looked at me and asked the question. "Uh, you want me to stick with you for walk around or is there something you trust me with that I can get started on?" He dropped his duffel near where I'd set my coffee. "Oh! Almost forgot. I brought a little thank you something, - well sort of a gag gift really." He grinned and proffered a small bag.
He was obviously fired up and nervous and doing his best not to look it. I wondered if it was just the moment or if he was naturally a bit high strung. I took the bag skeptically and looked inside. "Kitten Brand Coffee?! This isn't a little thing," I exclaimed. "How much did this run you, Niall?"
He laughed and waved his hand. "Call me Rusty. It cost me nothing. Dad has connections were he works up in central and it's his thank you as much as mine for getting me out from underfoot for a couple days."
I was already liking his sense of humor. But, time to see if he was as good as his record suggested.
"Well, thank you. I've never actually tried this," I said with a grin. "You are certified on Taipans and fighter systems in general, yes? Let me take you up and you can start your portion of the checklist there. Please don't be insulted if I make a pass over after you are finished. That's just how I operate till I get to know someone." He nodded.
I did make a pass through behind him later and found nothing of note beyond the one or two concerns he found that he wanted my opinion on. I had time to give him the tour after that and we made our departure from Jaques Station on schedule. I selected a system 42 light years distant as our first stop. On arrival we got straight to work checking systems. Everything looked good down the board, and Rusty, who was sitting at the scan station, started a full spectrum scan to check the FSS.
He found something interesting at one of the Gas Giants so we went over to have a look. As is typical, it turned out to be less interesting up close. But, while there I took the opportunity to launch a drone camera and get a nice photo of the ship while the paint was still fresh.
Afterwards, I jumped to the next system and had Rusty take the helm while I moved back to the sensor station to run my own check on the FSS at the source. Then I had him drive us over to a metal rich world to test the surface scanner probes and probe launcher.
The rest of the day went like that, swapping back and forth to run tests. We barely knew each other but we were already working well as a team, joking and talking the whole time. As the last test of the day, he took the fighter out for a spin while I followed in a loose trailing position. This was the one test I had to take his word on as I legally couldn't ask him to fly the Vette without supervision until he was certified.
He came back aboard and I called it time for dinner. He offered to cook, so I didn't argue and just showed him where the stores were kept. We chatted a bit more about home and family and I worked to get a feel for what sort of work he really wanted to do.
Yep, I haven't told him yet, but my mind is pretty close to made up that I'll hire him. After a day with someone intelligent to talk to with similar work ethics and interests, I can't even imagine going out alone again. But the interview isn't over yet. Tomorrow I'm running emergency drills on various systems to test them out and see how he handles under pressure.
That is all for now. Cheers.