The B Team

All characters that appear in this chapter of B-Team are my own. This story is a continuation of the original four part "B-Team". My special thanks to Tigermark for his continued assistance, participation, and encouragement in the crafting of this story.

The B Team is copyright © The Silver Coyote
2003, 2004, 2005, 2006

15 October 2006

I Don't Know Why, I Gotta Fly


Hey Joe, how are you guys doing?”

Hey Timmy. Not bad, The Bitch behaved herself coming out here to the Cape. We've got maybe thirty minutes more unloading, and then we'll be heading down to Marietta. How's things at home?”

Tim Riggins leaned back in the six-way adjustable office chair that barely contained his large, muscular frame, gazing out the door of his office at Intermountain Charter's facility in Colorado. Through the door he could see, across the reception area towards the main entrance, the two most important ladies in his life seated side by side on a small sofa, chatting quietly. The cougar held the red fox's paws in her own.

Good. That guy from Sony Pictures is coming out here later today to set up a firm schedule. First flight may get wheels-up before you all are done with your tour.” The marmot paused briefly. “How's the crew doing?”

Joe Latrans smiled slightly as he squinted into the mid-afternoon sun from behind his Raybans. The coyote stood beneath the outer port wing of his ride, Intermountain's semi-famous C-130. He was just out from the number one engine nacelle, just forward of the shadow cast by the massive wing. The concrete ramp at this corner of Cape Canaveral was unoccupied save for their aircraft and the trucks and crewfurs involved in unloading a rocket booster assembly from The Bitch. The sky was clear, the air pleasantly warm.

Good,” Joe replied. “Lola was a good catch for Matt. She's got The Bitch down cold already, she flies like she's been working with us for months. She and Slam hit it off immediately. And Slam is just like Slam has always been, minus the uniform. I'm glad the Corps let go of him earlier than expected. Matt had said something about not until after the first of the year, but here he is.” Joe switched the cellular phone from one paw to another. “I'll tell you something, I had no idea how much Slam knew about loading a cargo plane. He's not quite the wizard that Randy is, but he's good none-the-less.”

Tim chuckled briefly. “I guess maybe he and Randy were doing more than playing a few paws of stud poker down there in the hold on those long flights together, huh?”

Joe nodded. “Uh huh. More than likely.”

A brief silence hung between the two pilots before Joe asked “How are the girls?”

Tim paused before answering. His wife's best friend had briefly filled them both in on the discussions she and Joe had shared before Joe's departure earlier this morning. Janie had driven the three of them through the slush-filled streets to Centennial after they had dropped off Annie's pups at school, and while most of what Annie related to them was not news to his wife Janie, Tim had listened with rapt attention. He knew very little about Annie's history that preceded the time they had met all those years ago in Virginia, and Annie's story had been somewhat of a shock to him. Somewhere in his mind he realized that his wife had kept this history she and Annie Latrans shared to herself all these years. Far from annoying him, this pleased Tim. He had always admired Janie's loyalty to and love for Annie, and was just now learning how deeply committed a friend Janie truly was.

Of course, there had been that one part that was as much a shock for Janie as it had been for him.

So he knew that Joe's question wasn't as casual as it sounded.

They're fine, Joe. We're all at the office.”

At Centennial?”



Jan had some bids to complete and FAX, and I wanted to get the ground work for the Sony deal finished. Annie came along to keep us from becoming too bored with each other.”

This was subterfuge, and Joe knew it. Like the friends they were, Tim and Janie were closing ranks around his wife to protect her.

She told you about last night?”

Tim took a breath and slowly exhaled. “Yeah, she did, Joe. I hope you don't mind.”

Hell no, Timmy. I'm just thankful that you're with her and letting her talk. She's pretty broken up about this. Did she tell you about my mom?”

Your mom?”

She's what started all this mess.”

She told us about some fur named 'Dax'.” Tim paused again. “And the other pups,” he said quietly.

Joe's voice became thick in the marmot's pawset. “How'd that go down with you two?”

Joe, even Janie didn't know about the first one. You were the first one to ever hear about that.”

I know...” Joe replied hesitantly. “I also know that some furs of faith are strongly opinionated about that subject. I just want you to know that I'll understand if you and Janie are uncomfortable being around us from here on out.”

Hell, Joe,” Tim exclaimed. “That's wasted information. Our Lord commands us to forgive, not to judge. We all make mistakes, we all fall short. Jan and I are here for you, just like always. We will pray with you, we will support you, we will be your friends. No worries.”

On the cargo ramp at Cape Canaveral, surrounded by the technology that made his heart beat faster, the coyote stared at the tips of his boots as one scuffed the concrete, oblivious to his surroundings.

Thanks, Timmy.”

The marmot could feel, through fifteen hundred miles of data link, the stress in his friends voice. “I don't know what else to tell you, Joe, except don't sweat that. Whatever you and Annie have to face, Jan and I will always have your six.” This elicited no immediate response. “So,” Tim continued in a gentle tone, “what's this about your mom?”

In Florida Joe Latrans stared at the sky for long moments, silently thanking God for a friend like Tim Riggins. He inhaled a bit unsteadily.

That's what started all this. When Annie and I were in California my mom insisted on calling her 'Sharon' all the time, and treated her like crap the whole time we were there. She and the pups. She barely noticed that her grandpups were even there.”

Tim could hear the strength building back into Joe's voice, and realized that anger was fueling the change of timbre. “How did your pups react?”

Oh, they were perfect angels about it. They were quiet and respectful towards my mom.”

But about Annie's name? Were they troubled?”

I didn't think so, at first.” Joe shrugged to the empty cargo ramp at the Cape. “But apparently, from what Annie said, it was little Marie asking her about why her grandma called her 'Sharon' that started Annie thinking about my mom's actions and motivations. And the more she thought about it, the more she became convinced, terrified, that it was the tip of the proverbial iceberg. She sweated and fretted and stewed over it coming back from California, but kept it bottled up until Marie's questions. Then it all boiled over. And Joshua asked me about the same thing, and I had to explain to him that it was probably because my mom hates me, that she was trying to get to me through Annie.”

Tim's eyebrows shot up in surprise. “You think your mom hates you, Joe?”

I know my mom hates me, Timmy. Beyond any doubt. She made that very plain to me years and years ago.”

And she's hung on to that all this time, you think?”

It would seem so. I think the whole deal with calling Annie 'Sharon' was to get to me, through her. My mom was trying to make me angry by hurting Annie.” Joe paused to measure his tone. “It worked.”

Tim whistled quietly into his pawset. “That's a heavy load to carry around with you, my friend.”

Again the coyote shrugged at the Florida sky. “Not really. Not after all these years.”

Well,” Tim said, injecting some brightness into his voice, “we're here at Centennial, and everything's fine. Randy is swaggering around here like the biggest rooster in the yard, 'cause I put him on the Caravan schedule solo. He'll be handling NavPet's missions while I'm shuttling that movie crew around. He's flying tomorrow.”

Nav Pet?”

Navajo Petroleum. That contract for drilling supplies and sample transport out in Arizona.”

Oh, yeah...,” Tim heard his friend say absently. “Hey, Slam is waving at me. I think we're ready to get started for Georgia.”

Tim Riggins smiled. “Good. Get to Port Columbus and get a good night's sleep, OK?”

Right,” Joe said with a trace of humor in his voice. “Like Matt will let that happen.”

He won't be buying you drinks, that's a fact. He knows you'll be up and at 'em first thing.”

That's true...” Joe said.

The marmot waited patiently for a few seconds, knowing that his friend had more to say.

I know you and Janie have been spending a lot of your time bailing me and Annie out lately...”

Joe,” Tim interrupted. “It's what friends do for each other.”

There was another few seconds pause.

Thanks, Timmy. That means a lot to me.”

The marmot grinned. “You'll get my bill.”

I'll pay it,” the coyote replied. “On time, even.”

Fly right, Joe.”

Fly right, Timmy. Good luck with Sony.”

Yeah,” the marmot chuckled, getting out of his chair. “Good luck with Matt.”

Thanks for that. Catch ya later.”

Be seein' ya down the line, Joe. Say hi to Lola and Slam for us.”


# # #

As Tim Riggins hung up his telephone, a Hawker 400XP rolled off of runway three five right and came to a stop below the control tower at Centennial Airport. After a brief radio exchange with the ground controller, the pilot of the business jet taxied slowly northbound on the east parallel taxiway, turning northeast at taxiway A6. From there a young fur in a bright red “follow-me” truck guided the jet to a set of chocks in front of Denver jetCenter, the fancy FBO (fixed base operation) for business jets. This fur hopped out of his truck once the jet was situated and un-spooled a thick cable from the APU (auxiliary power unit) in the bed of his truck. After connecting this cable to the nose of the Hawker, he then connected a pair of headphones with a boom microphone to a much smaller jack on the nose of the aircraft and spoke a few words to the aircrew.

Shortly after this dialog the turbines spooled down and the ramp became a bit less noisy. The door on the port side of the sleek jet popped open, a small set of stairs deployed, and one of the flight crew deplaned. This fur, dressed in a first officer's uniform, conversed briefly with the young fur from Denver jetCenter as a large black sedan approached the jet.

As the sedan pulled up in front of the Hawker a lone red fox descended the stairs and strode purposefully towards the car, which sped away as soon as the door closed behind it.


# # #


I need a little more money, Maria.”

The ancient coyote stared at him with cold, dark eyes, and Harrison Clement the Third felt that chill at the base of his tail again.

What for?” she eventually asked. “I feel like I've quite well funded your efforts so far.”

Information costs money, dear.”

Maria smiled thinly, allowing herself a small chuckle. “I must admit, I've certainly gotten more than I had imagined possible so far.” She shifted her position a bit, rising up on an elbow to face him as she lay on her side. “In more ways than one.” She favored him with a gentle if cold touch on his muzzle. “I can hardly wait for the reunion.”

The lawyer suppressed a desire to shiver as he stared at the ceiling. Since allowing the relationship he held with Maria Latrans to escalate to this level, hastening his quest for her money, he had begun to have trouble sleeping, and was developing an irritable streak. While taking him as a lover, she showed no inclination whatsoever to share with him things other than the desires of her aging body. The Great Dane shook his head slightly in disgust.

You disagree?”

He rolled away from her to sit up on the edge of the bed, his back to her. “No,” he said shortly. “I'm sure it will be a grand show. But like any good production, it requires regular infusions of cash to keep the skids greased and make sure things go the way we want.”

The coyote sighed behind him, a paw moving to gently stroke the Dane's tail.

Harrison almost jumped up, but controlled his reaction quickly enough to turn the motion into a quick, fluid grab at his dress slacks, which adorned a chair in the corner of the room. Drawing them on, he turned to face her as he buckled his belt, willing a neutrally friendly visage to his muzzle. Suddenly the lawyer was filled with self-loathing, and couldn't wait to get out of this house and away from the old coyote.

And if this production is going to continue, I'll need another ten thousand,” he said as if they were even now sitting in his office.


Information costs money,” he repeated. “If you want to drill your son tail-first into the ground by destroying the fur that is his wife, then you're going to have to pay.” The tone of his voice was almost calm. He heard just the barest hint of anger in it, and wondered if she could. He took a short breath and exhaled noisily, and then screwed on all the sweetness he could muster in his voice. “You know, dear, we could spend much less time discussing these mundane things and concentrate more on what we enjoy if you would simply grant me access to the necessary funds to complete this work.”

She watched him silently as he reached for, and than donned, a silk shirt.

That way,” he continued, softening his gaze, “I wouldn't have to bother you with the mechanics of the operation, and you could simply savor the outcome.”

She smiled, thinking about that as he buttoned his shirt. Drawing the top sheet of her bed about her body, Maria sat up and favored the lawyer with a wink. “I think I understand. Perhaps we should have dinner tonight to celebrate those arrangements being made.”

The lawyer stared at her, a small grin slowly coming to his muzzle. “I could use a drink,” he admitted carefully, nodding.


# # #


The striped civet held a small Mag Lite in one paw while the other laid against the cold skin of his subject. “She performed well, then?”

Yeah,” a voice growled from below. “Screamed like a house a-fire and gave us a ride like nobody's business.”

Marco Petrone grinned to himself. The brown bear had a way with words. The beam of white light from his Mag Lite played about the inside of the number one engine nacelle on Numbers, Intermountain Charter's rapidly resurrecting C-130. The T-56 Allison turbine he was inspecting looked almost factory new, and leaked no fluids at all. All evidence of the in-flight fire was gone. He had seen the performance numbers that Jerry had noted during the shakedown flight, and more importantly had spoken with Matt Barstock about his impressions of the re-engined aircraft. If anyone could tell what was what about how a C-130 flew, it was that old Lab. With thirty-some years and forty-some thousand hours flying transports almost exclusively, Matt's opinion mattered a great deal. If Numbers had fallen short of his expectations, Matt would have told the FAA Inspector so to his face.

What about the ramp?” the civet asked, extinguishing his flashlight and looking down from his perch on the ladder he stood on.

Well,” Jerry replied with frown, “we've got a line on the material we need, but it's out in Arizona at the boneyard. Matt's hoping that The Bitch can pick it up for us. She and her crew will be out to Phoenix tomorrow, I'm told, but probably won't have room to carry our stuff in addition to the manifest. If I can arrange for Joe and his crew to get out to the boneyard empty, maybe we can have them fly it out to us. Otherwise I'll have to contract a trucking company to do it.

Truck would be cheaper,” Marco observed.

Air is faster,” Jerry countered. “You know Matt, he wants everything yesterday.”

Marco's thin tail twitched in amusement as he smiled. “Yeah, I've noticed his impatient streak a time or two.” The smile faded as he looked a bit perplexed. “Who's Joe?”

The brown bear looked at him in mild surprise. “You haven't met our other C-130 pilot?”

A negative shake of the head.

Joe Latrans,” Jerry elaborated. “Coyote, but big, with a dark muzzle. I think there may be a bit of shepherd somewhere in the family kennel. He's been flying with us for... I don't know exactly, eight or nine years maybe.” The bear motioned with a paw for Marco to come down off his ladder.

As the civet descended he continued. “He used to share the duty of flying The Bitch with Steve Lupus.” Jerry paused as Marco nodded in recognition of the name. “But now Steve is alone out here waiting for us to get Numbers operational. When Matt opened the office in Denver, Joe and Tim Riggins went out there permanently, and took The Bitch with them. Joe, he's got a wife and a couple of pups out in Englewood, southwest of Denver.”

A coyote, you say?” Marco asked as he stepped away from the ladder.

Jerry nodded. “A big one. Six foot, a bit on the heavy side, but a likable fur.”

Don't know him,” Marco admitted.

He'll be here later tonight. He's going to be delivering the wing box kit from Lockheed Martin for this crate here,” Jerry said, waving a paw in the direction of the fuselage of the C-130 that towered over them.

Huh,” Marco replied. “Maybe I'll come out here later and meet him.”

I'll be here,” Jerry said. “They hired a new pilot out there at Centennial not too long ago. A lady. She's a coyote too, from what I hear. I want to meet her.”

Marco Petrone laughed briefly. “What is it with you guys and the canines?”


You've got a C-130 aircrew that's a pair of coyotes. Your other C-130 jock is a wolf. Your boss is a retriever. What's up with that?”

You forgot Slam,” Jerry said with a chuckle.


Slam. Teddy Whiteline, but everyone calls him Slam. He's another coyote.”

Another one?”

Jerry chuckled again, nodding. “This one's bigger'n Joe, and about half his age. A Marine, but he just got his honorable discharge. That guy is huge...” Jerry held a paw above his head parallel to the floor, and then held both paws about four feet apart at about eye level. “... with shoulders out to here. He goes along with all the military and secure cargoes.”

I maintain my point,” Marco said. “You guys are going to the dogs.”

Tell me about it...” Jerry rumbled good-naturedly. “Lets go look at the ramp area, I'll show you what we've done so far.”

Lead on, McGruff.”

I hate that pooch,” Jerry observed. “He looks like a goof in that trench coat.”

As the two walked side by side aft towards the lofty empennage of the transport the civet remembered something. “A lady, you say?”


You said Joe flies with a lady.”

Yeah, Lola. She's a transport jock, too. Air Force and California Air Guard. Late twenties, lots of hours. That's about all I know about her.”

The two stopped at the up-sloping rear of the aircraft, beneath the horizontal stabilizer. They both turned to look into the cavernous cargo bay, but didn't really see it.

Lola...” Marco said, obviously savoring the name. “Married?”

Jerry grinned slyly. “Why..?”

Just making conversation,” Marco replied innocently.

Riiight...” Jerry climbed up a short stepladder into the cargo bay.

Marco climbed up after him, switching on his flashlight once more.

Maybe I'll cruise by later this evening, just to say 'hi'.”

I'm sure Matt will appreciate that,” the brown bear said sarcastically.

Marco Petrone smiled quietly.


# # #


The sound was barely audible on the intercom, but it was there. Joe concentrated on it for a few seconds before he realized what he was hearing.

He rubbed the side of his muzzle. He was tired, and very much looking forward to setting down in Ohio, calling Annie, and getting some sleep. It would only be a bit longer now, an hour at most before the ramp went down and they could leave the aircraft in the capable paws of the Columbus ground crew. The ground crew would recover and refuel overnight, and they would be all set to head out to Knoxville at 0600 local time tomorrow.

Joe yawned, his tongue curling slightly. He was tired. Now that he thought on it, he'd been hearing that sound for at least a full minute, but had only now realized it and ascertained it's source.

He looked across the flight deck at his copilot. Damn her and that tailored flight suit, Joe thought with a slight grin. Slam had noticed it right off, and while not saying anything to Lola directly, she was quite well aware of the effect her garb had upon him. The largest coyote on the crew kept himself busy on the ground, but in the air he just sat there at the navigator / engineer's table, discreetly watching her.

The wing box kit and the other stuff that Matt had scheduled for pickup was more than they had expected. Slam had worked his tail off getting it squared away for an on-time departure. Fifteen thousand, six hundred pounds. Not a heavy load, but heavy enough to get their attention. He had been frazzled when they finally took off, and Lola had commented on it to him, telling Slam that he looked like he had been working out. She left him with a wink in the cargo bay.

She was now relaxed, flying the C-130 with a casual paw on the yolk, her left paw in her lap. It was dusk, there wasn't much to see outside except the sunlight on some high cirrus clouds. A gray deck of clouds blocked their view of the surface below.

As he watched her he became aware that her body was swaying ever so slightly in rhythm to the sound.

“What is that?” he asked quietly on the intercom.

Her head turned, and the green eyes locked on his blue.

“It's called 'humming',” she said, deadpan.

Joe chuckled. “I knew that much, Lola. It sounds familiar. Who is it?”

By way of an answer Lola began to sing, her gaze fixed on Joe.

I wanna rock and roll this party,
I still wanna have some fun,
I wanna leave you feelin' breathless,
Show you how the west was won,
But I gotta fly, I gotta fly!

Joe nodded in recognition. “Sheryl Crow.”

Lola grinned, nodding. “It's called Steve McQueen. It seemed... appropriate.”

“You have an awesome voice,” Slam observed from behind them.

“Thank you,” Lola said in a girlish voice as she returned her gaze to what was beyond the windshield. “That's sweet of you to say.”

Joe turned in his seat on the left side of the flight deck to look at the coyote – mountain lion hybrid. Slam was a big fur, easily outweighing Joe by twenty five pounds, and unlike the aircraft commander Slam had virtually no fat on him whatsoever. He was slightly slumped at the navigator's position to keep the tips of his ears from hitting the ceiling above him.

“You ought to hear her when she's got a full band behind her.”

“Do tell,” Slam encouraged.

Joe nodded again. “The night I met this young lady she was singing at a joint near us on their open mic night. She sang Black Velvet and drew a standing ovation. Even the band was impressed.”

“Really?” Slam enthused, looking at the back of Lola's head. “Perhaps some time you can sing a song for me.”

Joe noticed the expression on Lola's face that Slam could not see. It could best be defined as a smirk. Without turning her head Lola looked at Joe out of the corner of her eyes. Addressing Slam she said “Perhaps that could be arranged.” She winked at Joe.

The smile on Slam's muzzle grew just a bit as Joe looked at him. A feral gleam flickered for only an instant in the larger coyote's eyes. He nodded to Joe.

“I know a few bars in Columbus. Maybe we can find one that's got a live band playing.”

Lola giggled. “It's a date. What about you, Joe?”

Joe turned back in his seat to face forward. He shrugged. “I won't be doing any drinking. I'll have precious little time on the ground anyway, and I want to get some sleep.”

Lola turned her head towards him, her green eyes alight. “You ought to be careful, commander,” she teased. “Furs who don't know you might think you're getting a bit gray around the muzzle if they hear you saying things like that.”

Joe turned his head far enough aft to see Slam in his peripheral vision. “Did I mention,” he said sarcastically, “that's she's a standup comedian, too?”

“No...” Slam replied.

“My best work is not done standing up,” Lola observed.

“Oh boy...” Slam chuckled.

“You're talking about flying, right?” Joe asked innocently.

Lola grinned to the windshield in front of her and began humming her tune again, swaying slightly.


# # #


A bit later that evening, in the Columbus suburb of Briarcliff, a gray tabby feline was holding a pawset to her ear as she folded some clothes at a small table in her kitchen.

“So you don't know when you'll be coming back home?” Her tone implied dissatisfaction with the direction the call was taking.

“I don't, kitten, I told you.” a voice replied. “I'm not sure how long I'll be out here.”

The tabby sighed. “This sucks,” she said quietly.

“But I'm flying, Mel. They gave me my own aircraft! I'm going to be logging pilot in command time like crazy out here.”

“I know...” the tabby said uncertainly. “But I miss you.”

“I miss you too, kitten.”

A silence stretched between the tabby and her lover. In Colorado, Randy Clarkson scratched his ear briefly, wondering what to say next, how to make his fiancé understand the necessity of his being with Intermountain's western crew while she waited for him in Ohio. In her kitchen, Melanie hooked the pawset between her ear and shoulder, picked up another blouse, and began folding it.

As the seconds ticked by Randy's stress level cranked up more and more. Melanie, on the other paw, seemed content to wait him out. She placed the blouse on a neat stack of clothing and picked up the next garment. It was one of Randy's tee shirts.

“Some of your clothes are still here,” she commented without thinking.

Randy puzzled over what that might mean for only a moment.

“Melanie, look. I love you, OK?”

“I know,” she said quietly

“If we're going to get anywhere financially, I've got to build time, I've got to become a player in Matt's crew. I have to at the very least finish my multi-engine training. If I don't do that, the only thing I can fly pilot in command in is the Caravan.”

“I know,” the tabby repeated as she folded his tee shirt.

“If I'm going to be of any value to Matt and the crew, I've got to be able to fly the King Airs too. Maybe even get type rated in some of the jets. Until then, I'm only a part-time player, a pinch hitter. I can't make money for us that way.” Randy stopped. They'd had this discussion before, as recently as a few days ago, just before he'd hopped a commercial flight to Colorado.

He heard her sigh again.

“Look Mel, I'm doing this for us.”

“I know.” She tossed the folded tee shirt aside on an empty part of her table. “It's just...” her voice trailed off.

Again several seconds of silence stretched between them.

“Look kitten,” Randy said hesitantly. “Matt said that I would be out here until they can get some more pilots on board here, and then I would come home to Ohio. It's just gonna be until then. And they've already got Lola flying out here, and Slam has just come out as well. One or two more, and we'll be in good shape. It shouldn't...”

He heard purring.

Randy grinned slightly. “What..?”

Melanie McCall's voice was low. “This damn bed is so empty without you in it,” she purred.

For their first few nights together Randy had slept in his sleeping bag on the floor of her small apartment. Try though they might, her twin bed was just too small for the both of them to sleep in. So after a week together they had gone out to buy (with her money, his was tied up in flying) a queen size set. Just a few short weeks after that he had come out to Colorado, and now Melanie was in that big bed all alone.

The skunk's grin widened. “I know, baby.”

The purring continued. Randy felt his face flush beneath his fur. A paw pushed his long black hair up off his forehead.

“Tell you what, kitten. As soon as Joe gets back from his run I'll see if I can't figure out how to hitch a ride back to Ohio for a day or two. How's that?”

That same low, purring voice shook his world. “Maybe,” Melanie said slowly, “you ought to spend a day or two finding a place in Colorado.”


“For two, pet.” Melanie grinned to herself. She was not one for making fast decisions, but this had come to her unbidden and felt good, so she was rolling with it.

In Colorado Randy was staring at his pawset like it had just turned to solid gold. The smile on his muzzle looked painful, it was so wide.

“Do you realize what you're saying. kitten?”

The purr got louder. “I know exactly what I'm doing. You make it happen.”

“What about your parents?”

“What about them?” She giggled briefly. “They'll have to get their own place.”

Randy chuckled. Her folks were quite protective of her, and had taken a dim view of his presence in her life.

“What will you do for work, Mel?”

The tabby shrugged to herself. “I'll find something, trust me. We'll be OK. We'll be together.”

“Well...” Randy was at a loss for words momentarily. “I love you, kitten. We'll make this work.”

She nodded. “We will. I can...”

Melanie paused as a sudden high pitched whine interrupted her, looking up as though to look through her ceiling as the sound filled her apartment.

# # #

“God dammit, ” Joe swore, advancing the throttles to full power. “Go around checklist. Tell approach we're gonna need to orbit somewhere to figure this out.”

“Columbus Approach,” a voice to the coyote's right said, rising in volume with the power coming up, “Icy one twenty is executing a missed approach. Can we get a holding pattern somewhere to troubleshoot a gear problem?” As she made her call Lola shuffled through some small laminated cards clipped to her control yolk and removed one. Releasing her push to talk switch, she began to call out commands to Joe.


“Gimme fifty.”

“Fifty” Lola repeated, reaching between them to press the flap lever forward.

“Check gear up,” Joe replied.

“Icy one twenty,” the approach controller called, “Maintain runway heading to three thousand feet, then proceed direct Springfield VORTAC, report reaching three thousand. We can have you hold at Springfield for as long as you like.”

“Maintain two eight zero, we'll report reaching three thousand, expecting to proceed direct Springfield VORTAC, Icy one twenty.” Lola said into her boom mic. Releasing her push to talk switch she continued with her checklist.

“We've got three greens,” Lola said, looking at the panel. Returning to her checklist, she continued. “Oil cooler flaps.” Lola looked above her head. “Auto, checked,” she answered herself.

“Copy cooler flaps to auto,” Joe replied, trimming the Hercules for a standard climb rate. “Altitude fifteen hundred.”

“Copy fifteen hundred,” Lola replied. “Lights?”

Joe looked to his overhead panel. “Checked, as required. Give me taxi lights for the climb.”

Lola manipulated some switches to her immediate left on the pedestal between them. “Landing lights off and up, taxi lights on, check.” She then glanced briefly but carefully at the transponder head. “Squawk checked one four zero three,” Lola said. “Bleed air?”

“Check,” Joe replied

“Warning lights?”

“All clear.”

“Go around checklist complete,” Lola said, looking at Joe. “Now what?”

“Get Springfield on the number one nav display and find us the holding pattern info.” The coyote glanced over his shoulder. “Slam?”


“Lola's gonna keep us airborne once we get to Springfield. You and I...”

“Icy one twenty,” the approach controller interrupted. “I see you passing twenty five hundred. Proceed direct Springfield, climb and maintain twelve thousand, report reaching.”

“Icy one twenty proceeding direct Springfield, will report reaching twelve thousand, thanks,” Lola said.

Joe waited for Lola to look at him. It didn't take long. Her body language was still calm, but he could see nervousness in her eyes.

“Here's the deal. First, you take the aircraft.”

Lola placed her right paw on her control yolk. “I have the aircraft,” she replied, still looking at him.

Turning a bit more to his right, Joe continued. “Slam, you and I are going to figure out what's going on with the gear. I suspect it may be electrical, because nothing works. I'm going to check a couple of things with you here, and if we can't get something going here I'll go below and see what's up.” He smiled tightly. “We may have to crank 'em out by paw.”

Slam nodded, a nervous smile flickered across his muzzle as well. “Like old times,” he said ruefully.

“Yeah,” Joe replied, turning to look at some circuit breaker panels. “Old times.”

To Chapter Twenty Five: Forget Me Not

Back to The B Team Table of Contents

Back to the Stories Page

Back to The Range