Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Girl Rides The Wind, Ch. 8, Sneak Preview

Chapter Eight
A Question of Wardrooms
The grind of life on a warship tended to bring its own inertial motivation, a daily round of meetings, exercises and tasks, occasionally interrupted by a “live” mission. Three times, Emily’s chopper had flown the teams out to islands at the southern end of the Philippine archipelago, and each time they’d come up empty, finding only the detritus of abandoned camps. All the while, the Amphibious Squadron steamed eastward, heading for the Marianas where another set of exercises had been scheduled. The Devil Dogs understood what it meant – “Operation Seabreeze” was as much about fostering cooperation as about catching actual terrorists. 
Meanwhile, Emily frequented the “dirty shirt” wardroom, which catered to the aircrews. CJ and Zaki preferred to take their meals in the XO’s wardroom, but Emily didn’t care for the formality, and cafeteria-style service suited her mood better these days. 
“Are you hiding down here?” Perry asked, as he swung a leg over the chair opposite and nudged his tray against hers to make room. 
“Do I have to answer?”
“Aren’t you afraid the senior staff is gonna notice your absence?”
“Yeah, and I hear the ship’s company gets better food,” Emily replied without looking up. 
“The CO has been hinting that he wants another translator at meals.” He looked for any sort of reaction, even annoyance at his suggestion, and when none was forthcoming, he added: “And with you down here, Diao has everything his way with the conversation.”
“Hasn’t it occurred to you that he’s the reason I’m down here?”
“You’re not afraid of him, are you? That would be a first.” When she raised her eyes, he got a pretty good indication that he’d pushed her too far.
“Not of him,” she snarled, “…for everyone else.”

Girl Rides The Wind. Ch. 7, Sneak Preview

Chapter Seven
Chutes and Ladders

Emily lay quietly in her rack – the clock they shared showed 0439, and its red eyes blinked back at her. Lettering on the back of an old photo she’d tucked up against the wall above her head shook in the general agitation of the bulkhead. She reached it down and held it out before her face in the dim illumination of CJ’s nightlight. “It’s not over yet,” it read. “Sorry, kiddo.” A finger slipped along one edge and she mouthed the final words: “You can count on me. C.”
Three pictures mattered to her, two of which she’d salvaged from the charred remains of the home she’d grown up in. Those images of her not-yet-recognized mother sustained her childhood, and she kept those back at Michael’s house in Virginia. But this one, a gift from Connie, had become the shoulder she rested on in the darkest moments since, too precious to lose, and too important not to keep near. A sealed plastic bag kept it dry – her one concession to the hazards of shipboard life – but it had been in enough uniform pockets to round off two of the corners. 
She flipped it over and let her eyes roam across the fading colors on the other side. The jungle-camo green of the men’s fatigues had gone mostly grey, but Connie’s hair was still blond, tied back in a severe pony-tail. There she stood, on a wooden dock in Okinawa or maybe Manila, next to a single-engine seaplane, with three men. Two of them looked directly at the camera, perhaps surprised, but with faces too stony to show it, and a third man stood further back, shaded by the wing, glowering at something behind Connie. And how had someone even be able to take such a picture – this thought had always perplexed her. Was it a friend? But these people weren’t the sort to make friends, not even with each other. Or just an accident? However it had happened, she was sure Connie had demanded the camera, no doubt hissing a not-so-veiled threat on the photographer’s life.

Girl Rides The Wind, CH. 6 Sneak Preview

Chapter Six
Boarding the Bonhomme Richard

The ride over to Haneda Airport in two buses took just over an hour—luck of the draw, since the other company would leave too late to avoid rush hour traffic—and the charter flights to Nagasaki would occupy another two hours. From there, a short helo-ride would deposit them at the naval base at Sasebo. Seating on the plane sorted itself out in predictable ways, by rank and nation, though nothing required it.
“At least on the bus, we didn’t have to endure the gaijin,” Tsukino muttered, glowering across the aisle to where Emily sat with Durant and Oleschenko. The flight attendant offered him a water bottle and a bag of the orb-like, slightly sweetened cookies called hashimitsu.
“Are you still stewing over the drubbing she gave you?” Ishikawa snorted.
Tsukino growled and turned to Kano for moral support, but none was forthcoming. “You know it’s not right, Captain, not after what she did to us.”
Kano waved him off with an angry glance, and stalked down the aisle to look for an empty seat in the back.
“I could have told you he wouldn’t bite on that one,” Ishikawa said. “But you have definitely got to let it go. So you got your ass kicked… so what? It’s not like you didn’t totally deserve it.”
“Will you ever shut up, Dice?”
“I only wish someone had made a video of it.”
“I’m sure someone did,” Tsukino huffed.