Space is a near-vacuum, as all good Academy graduates and most two-year-old children know. And if you ask, "If I drop a pebble into space like I do into a pool of water, will it cause ripples?" you'll get some strange looks from everyone.
Nevertheless, someone dropped a pebble in space not too long ago, and we're still encountering the ripples.
Last month, two very good pilots (Lt. Larry Dibbles and Captain R.A. Skinner) went out on a routine mission and didn't come back. Here in Vega Sector, it happens all the time. You sit for awhile; you look at your pal's empty bunk; you think about where he's gone and hope you won't soon follow his lead; you probably get drunk. Then it's back to work.
Yes, it happens all the time. But it's been happening a lot lately - and not just routine casualties, but casualties caused by sloppiness, over-eagerness, and a variety of other fatal diseases. The ship'sstatistical resources show that avoidable casualties are up 5% over this time last year... and are up 9% over expected optimum performance. So, we're seeing ripples.
Here's one ripple: Two pilots are gone and won't be back.
Another: This issue, we've asked one of the ships most experienced pilots, Major James Taggart (aka Paladin on the flightline) to talk about The Basics: Basic tactics, goals, and maneuvers. Even if you're sure you know The Basics, read what he has to say, and remember that Paladin is still
going strong after twenty-plus years as a combat jockey... and even if he doesn't wear his Ace of Aces ribbon, its still there.
Another: You won't be seeing Hornet's Nest - a carrier which bore an unfortunate and unmistakable resemblance to the Tiger's Claw - were the product of an artist and pilot who went by the moniker of Tooner. We like to remember Tooner as having a deft wit and a diseased mind, but all we can do is remember him. He was also known as Lt. Larry Dibbles. R.I.P.
Then, it's back to work. Also in this issue, we have the latest Vega Sector update from Joan's Fighting Spacecraft including the most up-to-date- data on the Kilrathi ships we're facing; an excerpt from Borger's new survey of Terran and Kilrathi weapons systems; and our usual assortment of news, facts, trivia, and profiles. Enjoy them... but think about them.