Swift Fox and the Pirates of the Jackai, Part Fourteen
Hangar bay, Barrow’s Revenge
Senia Felix went over a final check of her fighter craft, and along with Billings and Maneyard, they kept a full record of their three crafts. As Senia climbed out of the cockpit of her craft, she took note of Taggart as he stood next to his own plane. “Good afternoon, Corporal,” Senia called out and waved.
“Afternoon, Left-tenant,” he called back. “I see you perform the same checks as is common practice in the air corps.”
“Well, yeth,” Senia replied, trying to hide her speech impediment. “The three of uth had wished to join the corps, but thomeone at the Vulpine Command felt our thkillth were better uthed ath bounty hunterth.” She coughed a bit, having had to use so many words that would reveal her slight handicap.
Taggart light his pipe and walked over to the three planes, studying them closely. “Not much of a different design than the old birds,” he noted. “What are the new upgrades they made?”
“A bit faster,” Billings offered as he walked over to Taggart and looked up to the three birds. “Weapons payload isn’t as much, mind you. A bit more roomy, that’s for sure.”
Taggart looked to the three bounty hunters for a moment before looking back to the fighter craft. “You three trained in the old Mavericks?” he asked, mentioning the name of the birds that were part of the Midnight Squadron.
“Yeth indeed,” Senia replied with a nod. “Over a thouthand hourth each behind the thtick. They introduthed the new birdth jutht ath we graduated from the flight academy.” As the four talked, they exchanged stories from flight school, and any encounters they had. Taggart’s were the most interesting. Just a few years younger than Dawkins, Taggart explained he flew with Dawkins in the Great Lupine Territorial War. The Royal Vulpine Authority never officially went to war, but they did send supply lines and aerial support. Senia marveled at the story, admitting she had wanted to join the 76th after reading of the accomplishments made by Dawkins himself.
“A bit of hero worship,” Taggart said with a laugh as he nudged Senia. “Well, don’t do that too much ’round Dawkins, can’t have the old man getting to big for his own tail. Never know, maybe we’ll get ta see these birds in action.”
“Part of me hopeth tho, Taggart,” Senia said with a sigh. “And part of me hopeth we can retholve thith without any phaser fire being exchanged. But, either way, we’re ready should we get into the thick of thingth.” She nodded firmly to this last.
“Spoken like a true fighter pilot,” Taggart nodded as he took a pull from his pipe. “I think if ya keep yer nose clean an’ fly right, you’ll get ‘long famously with Dawkins.” He took out his pipe and tapped it a bit on a nearby waste bin, then stuck it back into his mouth before he continued. “For now, I suggest getting a little bit of rest. Word from the Captain is we won’t be leavin’ until dawn, so you’ve got some time. Though, if yer up for it, could give ya a bit o’ a tour ’round the place.” The three bounty hunters nodded their interest and Taggart nodded with a smile as he ushered them off to begin the tour. Taggart liked them, truly he did. They seemed to have that fighter pilot’s swagger about them, though he did wonder why they were passed over for the air corps. A story for another time, perhaps. For now, they had the time to rest, for come the morning they would be ready for launch.