2034, Part V: Sailing Into Darkness

2034, Part V: Sailing Into Darkness

She made a request to disable all of the avionics in one of her fighter squadrons, VMFA-323, the Death Rattlers, the only Marine squadron aboard the Enterprise and the only one that still used the antiquated F/A-18 Hornet airframe. She would be given two days to modify the aircraft in port, and then whatever extra time she could steal once she got underway. She would, in effect, be refashioning one of her squadrons as a “dumb squadron.”


The squadron's commanding officer had stridently objected. He had told Hunt that he wasn't sure all of his pilots were up for this type of flying—without instruments, by the seat of their pants alone. She had dismissed his concerns, not because she didn't think they had merit but because she had little alternative. She knew that when they next fought, they would fight blind.


That was, of course, if she could find the Zheng He.


09:00 MAY 21, 2034 (GMT-4)


QUANTICO


Wedge just wanted to go home. Back to San Diego. Back to the beach. Back to 06:00 at the gym, to a 08:00 preflight, to a 09:00 first hop, then lunch, then a second hop at 13:30, then postflight and debrief, followed by drinks at the officers' club and a night spent in a bed that wasn't his own. He wanted to wear his Ray-Bans. He wanted to surf the point at Punta Miramar. He wanted to talk shit to his buddies in the squadron, and then back that shit up when they did dogfight maneuvers at Fallon Naval Air Station.


What he didn't want?


He didn't want to be in Quantico. He didn't want the master sergeant whom Headquarters Marine Corps had assigned as his “escort while in the WDCMA” to keep follo ..