Monday, July 1, 2024



Lance Star and the Ghost Squadron
Chapter 7.

Lance Star surveyed the damage to the Skybolt II. The plane was as tough as they come but had taken a pretty substantial hit from that missile. He hated the sight of his pride and joy ripped apart like this.

“What do you think, Buck?” he asked “Can you get her airworthy again?”

Buck Tellonger ran a hand over his chin and mouth, ruffling his big, thick mustache. “Yeah. We can work with this. The ol’ girl needs a hangar for a full overhaul, but I can get us in the air. It’ll take a while. Several hours, at least. Maybe close to sundown.”

“What if we have to take her into combat?” Lance Star asked.

“I’d rather avoid it, if possible, boss,” Buck said, chomping down on his unlit cigar. “She’ll fly, but she’s still pretty banged up.”

“Do what you can.” Lance started pulling equipment out of the plane, putting a few items into a backpack.

“Uh, pardon me, but are you planning to go somewhere, Lace?” Jacob Cutter asked.

The pilot smiled. “Whoever fired those missiles our way is bound to come looking for us, either to make sure we crashed, or to make sure we don’t escape. I’d rather see them coming than get caught off guard.” He pointed toward a rocky mesa to the east. “Based on the coordinates Buck triangulated, they’ll be coming from that direction. I figure it couldn’t hurt to get a look and early warning when they come for us.”

“You can’t go alone,” Buck started.

“I need you to fix the plane.” Lance held up a hand. “And before you argue, Cut, I need you here to help him. And watch his back.”

Lance checked his ammunition, slipped his sidearm into its holster, loaded up on extra ammo, a compass, binoculars, a handful of emergency ration bars, a portable radio, some rope, small mallet, stakes, and a canteen.

“Better take an extra canteen, boss. It gets hot out there.”

“Thanks, Buck,” Lance said as he pulled on a hat with a bill to keep the sun out of his eyes. He took the canteen, dropped it into the pack. He put on a pair of sunglasses before tossing the bag over his shoulders. “Get this thing in the air,” he said. “I’ll radio in if I see anything. When you think they’re within range, radio Red and Cy. Worse comes to worst, they fly us out of here. Or bring help.”

“Be careful.”

“You two. Both of you.”

With that, Lance Star started out across the rocks and sand. It didn’t take long before heat distortion blurred Buck’s line of sight. Eventually, he could no longer see his friend.

“Okay, Jake,” Buck said, climbing up on the wing. “We got a lot of work ahead of us and very little time. Let’s get to it. Grab that toolbox.”

“You think it’s wise to let him run off a lone like that?” Cutter asked as he handed up the toolbox.

“No,” Buck said softly. “No. I don’t.”

To be continued…

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