CHAPTER 1 - Test chapter
“If Only In My Dreams”
“Wouldn’t it be ironic if we were lost?”
Leo looked over his shoulder to find the inscrutable face of Owen Neely, their flight engineer. He’d only known the mountain lion for a week or so—long enough to become accustomed to the man’s dour pessimism. “We’re not lost. Obviously.”
“Flight was supposed to take nine hours, right? Been nearly ten.”
Before Leo could answer, Tom Benson—his counterpart, in the pilot’s seat—let out a coarse growl. “Mr. Neely! Don’t you have some engines to be looking after?”
“They’re doing fine,” Owen said. “Just stretching my legs, sir.”
“Stretch them in the galley, Mr. Neely. Put some coffee on or something.” After Owen took the hint and made himself scarce, Lieutenant Commander Benson shook his head. “It would be nice if we still had a navigator.”
The flying boat was traveling light, because they needed room to take on passengers at their destination. They had no navigator, no electrician—no gunners, for that matter, because they also had no guns. Leo had taken the last sight.
A veteran of the Army Air Corps, the fox was a trained pilot, but it was his status in the Nevada Rangers that “earned” him the copilot’s seat on the Consolidated Catalina. He was the highest-ranking officer that could be spared to sign over title to one of the Rangers’ ships.
With everything else going on in the world—the fighting in Europe, insurrection on the eastern seaboard, rumors that the Empire of Japan had tried to bribe Sacramento into neutrality—Leo had been deputized to handle paperwork. That rankled; he’d taken the sun sight out of a desire to prove that he was more than a bureaucrat.
The same need gnawed at him now. “I’ll check the radio,” he offered.
“See that you do. Find your damn boat.”
“It’s not my boat. It’s a Rangers boat.”
Tom Benson stared pointedly at the sleeves of his flight jacket. “You see any Rangers patches, fox? No, right? Find your damn boat,” he repeated, and turned his attention back to the seaplane’s instruments.