Space pirates? Invisible asteroids? Six-limbed aliens invading from the Lesser Magellanic Cloud? Bring 'em on, Beverly Bronte is ready to handle them. As Ensign Bronte, a new graduate of the Trans-Planetary Patrol Academy and the first woman assigned to serve on a Patrol spaceship, Beverly shows her native intelligence and ingenuity in solving problems ... and she also shows her ability to deck a space marine of twice her weight. Promotions come fast, but the challenges come faster in this action packed space saga.
Plus Bonus Story by Beverly Bronte.
Lieutenant Commander Bronte called a meeting to brief the space marines on what was going to happen. The Captain was there, as well as Major Haines and his two platoon leader captains.
She started out describing the plan. "The only way we can see to do anything about that alien ship is to board and storm. We have built a wooden and plastic shuttle craft, with gas bottles made out of a super high-tensile-strength plastic to use as braking jets for a soft landing. The same kind of plastic gas bottles will be used with the party's spacesuits...also made of plastic. There will be no energy weapons, and a minimum of metal...we have to keep it well under three hundred pounds."
Major Haines asked, "If we have no energy weapons, how do we fight? For that matter, how do we get into their ship?"
"Second question first, we will use a special form of thermite. The metal content in it has been figured into our three hundred pounds. Thermite contains its own oxygen so it will burn in the vacuum of space, and it can melt its way right through their hull. We have the thermite packaged in long tubes, and we can form a circle around that hatch we saw. As far as fighting goes, each member of the team will have a sword, a knife, and a wooden quarterstaff."
"A sword? You're kidding, right?" said Major Haines.
"No, Major. I checked the records and all of your men have had training with swords. For some it has been a while, we may do a refresher course. And the amount of metal needed for one sword and one knife per person is well below the limit that will trigger defensive fire from the alien." She paused and picked up a sword from the floor. "As you can see, the swords we are going to use are slightly curved, like a Civil War Cavalry saber. They have a sharp edge for cutting and a sharp point for thrusting. Plus they're sharp on the back edge for eight inches or so. After a stab you can cut in either direction to enlarge the wound...or if you find an opportunity you can do a backhand cut. About as deadly as we could manage."
"Okay, okay, so you've ordered twenty-one of these swords," said Major Haines.
"Twenty-two," said Commander Bronte.
"Twenty-two? No, there are twenty-one of us...myself and my twenty men."
"You, your twenty men, and me. Twenty-two."
The Major's jaw dropped. "You're going along, Commander? No, no, that's ridiculous. You'll just get yourself killed. Or else we'll have to spend so much time protecting you..."
"Major," interrupted Captain Lastings, one of Haines' two platoon leaders, "I think I'd like to see Commander Bronte go along. I mean, after that little incident in the gym, and then she went over to do a 2-G workout..."
Haines glared at Lastings, then said to Bronte, "If you do come along, can you use one of those swords?"
Without saying anything, she stood. She threw an ordinary lead pencil into the air and swung the sword she was holding. Two half pencils, sliced perfectly in two lengthwise, fell to the table. She sat down, then asked,. "Any more questions?"