Swift Fox and the Pirates of the Jackai, Part Five
On board the cargo cruiser Lionids’ Pride
“…of course, Norrin. We’ll make sure to be watching for you,” the tawny Lionid female said with a smile as she finished her conversation on the communicator. Norrin’s sister, Nadia, switched off the communicator just in time to hear the doors to the main bridge open. He mate, Urial, stood in the door frame. Even at his most calm, he looked majestic and regal. The robes he wore were always kept in pristine condition, as was his mane also always kept in an orderly fashion. Something he took great pride in, living by the motto that one should always look their best. His even temper and calm nature combined with his sense of style and grace were two things that drew Nadia to him. “Urial, my love. That was Norrin. The Barrow’s Revenge will be leaving port soon.”
His eyes twinkled as he smiled. For a moment, that boyish wonder seeped through as he heard the news. “Really? Most exciting.” He looked back into the hallway he had come from and called out. “Marina. Calder. Did you hear that? If you come quickly, you’ll have a chance to finally see one of those tall ships I’ve told you all about.” Two doors opened and the heads of two cubs looked out, smiles on their faces. Urial had obviously talked them up about ships like the Revenge.
“Really papa?” Marina asked as she scooted quickly past her father, taking a seat beside her mother.
“This will be so… fang-show!” Calder cried out with excitement as he raced past, using one of the more popular slang terms that the young cubs said these days. Urial chuckled in his usual deep, throaty manner as he walked onto the bridge to join his mate.
As they settled in, a shipyard wide alarm went off, announcing that one of the ships was about to leave port. The four watched as the doors to the repair bay were opened, and just beyond they could see the hull of the Revenge. “See that, cubs? That is the Barrow’s Revenge,” he informed them as he crouched down beside them.
“The Revenge?” both cubs said excitedly. The Revenge had her notoriety throughout the star system. Much of it written down in serialized novels, written on Vulpine and spread throughout the system. Some of it was based on fact, other stories were mere legend, embellished for the reading masses. But still, as the four Lionids watched the majestic ship exit the bay, they marveled at her.
A long, and sleek ship. Built for speed and to handle quick cargo. She was never originally built for close combat, or for long runs, but her first captain, after she was dubbed the Barrow’s Revenge, made certain she could handle the load. The pair of stabilizer wings jutted from the main body of the ship like the wings of a great bird of prey. A mast just aft of the bridge viewing window slowly raised the Revenge’s colours; a simple fox’s face with a star on it’s forehead, and a pair of cutlasses below the face. White on a black background.
“Papa! She has energy cannons!” Marina cried out excitedly.
“That’s the hangar bay!” Calder said as he pointed to the aft of the Revenge as she slipped past. “Papa, mama, will the Midnight Squadron do a fly by?” Dawkins’ Midnight Squadron had become as famous as the Revenge herself.
“No, not today, Calder,” Nadia said with a soothing voice.
“Yes, she’s just leaving port. But watch,” he said as he gazed out the view screen. “She’s about to unfurl her sails.”
The four watched as two sets of masts, one central mast and two extenders on either side of the main masts, rose up on the aft of the ship. When they reached their full height, the pair of extenders began to swing down and away from the central mast. They connected to the vibrant gold sails, constructed of pliable solar cells.
“Oh wow!” Marina and Calder said in unison as they watched the light from the nearby sun dance across the sails.
Urial let his fingers glide over the communications panel, and soon the voice of Norrin came across the speakers. “Recognize Lionid’s Pride. This is Helms Officer Norrin. What can we do for you, Urial?” There was a smile in her voice, as though beaming with pride as the Revenge slipped through the port, glad that her sister’s family got the chance to see the Revenge off on her voyage.
“Please inform Captain Clarendale that the Lionid’s Pride wishes to give the Revenge a send off,” Urial stated in his most calm voice, but even then it couldn’t hide his smile.
“Will do, Urial. Norrin out.” The communications unit switched off, and Urial’s hand glided over the weapons ports. He launched a single energy blast, which exploded harmlessly in front of the main sails of the Revenge. The sails gleamed as they consumed the energy quickly, adding it to the energy of the main engine core.
“What did you do that for, papa?” Calder asked as he continued to watch the Revenge begin to shrink in size in the view screen.
“Back when the first tall sailing ships of the space lanes were made,” Urial explained to his cubs. “Ships would launch an energy blast to discharge in front of the sails of a ship leaving port. It would give the ship a little bit of a push, just to get her going. After a while, it became tradition to launch one energy blast as a ship of importance left port.” He rose to his feet and wrapped his arm around his mate. She looked to him with a smile, listening quietly as he spoke. “And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.” Nadia looked up to him with a quizzical expression, and he chuckled lightly. “A thought that came to me when I was but a cub at the Ice Field Monastery. It set my course, though, and made me dream of sailing the stars.”
“Very poetic,” Nadia stated as she hugged her mate. “And very apropos.”