Ann and Kimball arrived at the kite hatch. The kite was just a large sail to be deployed when they sailed at a run, or as an emergency sail for the cockpit if the rest of the ship was lost. Ann and Hank had carefully replaced the kite while in the last system, putting in her windsurfing board and sails.
“We’re at the hatch,” Kimball relayed.
“Copy,” Flynn said. “opening the hatch.”
Ann felt the hatch lift under her gloves, and she reached in to grab the hand bar on her mast. It was a single, triangular sail set on a pivot inserted into a board. Everything was made from sailcloth, which caught the wind. Already she could feel the wind threatening to tear the sail and board from her grasp. Only the anchoring line to the ship kept it from flying out into the stars.
Ann attempted to mount the board, which was anchored in the kite compartment by gravnets. It took some fiddling to get the anchoring straps locking her boots to the board. Tethers on her wrists attached her to the hand bar for the sail, though these would slide along the bar, allowing her to adjust her grip whenever necessary.
A hand patted her on the head.
“I’m secure,” she relayed.
“Copy,” Flynn said. “XO, final checks?”
“Green. We’re ready.”
“All right, Ann. It’s your show,” Flynn said.
“Pay me out.”
“Releasing board locks and paying out the line, 10cm per second.”
Ann’s mind wanted to jump down a list of what to do in any given circumstance, to always plan for the contingency. That was what they had drilled at the academy. Procedure after procedure and a checklist of things to do that robbed flying of all joy. But she had to admit that it made for safer flying. And now that she was about to attempt the most dangerous kind of flying imaginable, she wanted something she could latch onto, some way to increase her odds of coming back alive, of not being blown through the galaxy at the wind’s mercy.
Step one: Breathe. Step two: don’t care.