CHALK

A Racetrack Chronicles one-shot

Simon J. Dodd

The battlestar Galactica.

Sixteen months before the Fall.

"Action-stations stand-down," the 1MC announced.

"Alright, those of you who embarked today, stay put," the CAG said. "The rest of you—dismissed." The briefing-room drained in seconds; the drill had caught them just as the galley was due to open. Spencer looked around the remainder, most of them in flight-suits, a few in duty-blues. "Welcome aboard. Hope you're settled in and you're finding your way around. These," he held up a sheet of paper, "are your assignments. You're each assigned to a plane and a hangar-bay. Memorize them and go make sure you can find your way down to them blindfolded and half-asleep."

Spitfire nudged Racetrack. "You t'ink he assigned us together?"

"Who else would take you?"

"That hurts, Mags."

She squeezed Abigail's shoulders. "Let's go find out."

He had. Walking across the starboard hangar-deck toward their assigned Raptor, Racetrack froze, swallowed hard, and approached it more slowly. Well, there it is, she thought. Everything's real now. The "it" wasn't the plane; she had flown Raptors for a year off of the Triton, but the Triton was a teaching-ship, stuffed to the gunwales with ensigns who could still wash out, could still change focus. Assignments were fluid so planes were shared. Your name might be chalked onto the nameplate of any particular plane for a few days, but it wouldn't last.

This was different. She reached forward and touched the fingers of her right hand to the name-plate; there it was, stenciled onto the plane, just below the canopy outside the left-hand seat, not in chalk, but in fresh paint:

LT MARGARET EDMONDSON
"RACETRACK"

She ran her left thumb over one of her rank-devices. Somehow the paint made all the difference—made it real, tangible. She flicked her tongue through lips; well, mama, here I am. A long way from Falstone. Maggie Edmondson, a lieutenant on the worlds-famous battlestar Galactica. She shook her head, scoffing lightly at the absurdity of it. 'Where are you from Maggie?' You've-never-heard-of-it backwoods Picon. But I'm a lieutenant on the worlds-famous battlestar frakkin' Galactica.

She glanced over at Speedway; he was standing in the next bay over, arms folded, watching Jackal literally hug the canopy of their Raptor like it was an oversized puppy on solstice morning. What are you thinking, she wondered. His face was unreadable. Then, her eyes drifting downward—you do fill out those duty-blues awful good, Virgon.

"You alright?" Spitfire broke into her reverie.

"Yeah." She started, guiltily. "I just—"

"It's just a plane, Mags."

She snickered internally; she'd forgotten about that for a moment. Yeah, that too.

"And on a piece-of-crap billet, at that. Look at all this!"

"Maybe." Racetrack smiled. "But it's home for now." She glanced over at Speedway again; he caught her eye, and waved with a smile that looked at once sincere and uncomfortable. She smiled back. "Home for the next sixteen months."

Spitfire looked between Racetrack and Speedway and arched her eyebrows.

"Shut up, Abi."

"I didn't say a word."