Rocket Fox: Part Twelve
With the Nighthawk fully underway, the three Vulpine pilots were given the chance to relax as the craft was set to auto navigation. She’d get them to their location, and signal them when they were close. Hardy found the food storage units in the back of the craft. Clarfax had begun to download a transmission shortly after leaving space dock. And Senia was going over the sensor readings the Nighthawk was picking up.
“Thith ith incredible,” Senia commented as she read over a data pad. “The thenthor array picked up a ship travelling in the charted lane for merchant cargo vethelth, and she wath able to identify it.” She looked up to the others as she sat back in her chair. “The Lionid’th Pride. On route to Critainia. None of the old craft we trained in ever could read that far out.”
“That has to be about 10, maybe 15 million kilometers,” Clarfax stated as he shook his head. “The Class Ten Mavericks could get ten thousand kilometers at best, and that was only in low orbit.”
“This engine drive marvels me,” Hardy said as she took a pot of tea and began passing around tea cups to the others. “We’re travelling at only half her capability and already we’re going three times faster than the old Mavericks.”
“It’ll be a thrill to enter combat with her,” Senia commented as she took her tea and said her thanks. “What tranthmissionth did we get, Hardy?”
“Let’s see,” he said as he looked over the collected data pads in one hand while he balanced a tea cup in his other. “Got a note from Mrs. Bascombe and Mrs. Collinsworth. Both congratulating us on our transfer and best of luck all around. Mrs. Bascombe added that Philly couldn’t write because he is positioned to join the RVA Thunderchild for his five year deep space vessel duty. He’ll be with the pilot’s squadron on board, but she says he looks to be in fine shape to join the 103rd.”
“That’ll be a feather in his cap,” Hardy said as she took a seat and sipped her own tea. “But five years on board a deep space vessel. Isn’t the Thunderchild a heavy escort cruiser?”
“I believe tho,” Senia said with a nod. “Back in the day, she would ethcort cargo shipth and thuch from one thide of the Wayfarer’s Run to the other. Mothtly to avoid Jackai pirateth, but after a few tathteth of her gunth, pirateth thtayed away when they heard Thunderchild wath in the area.” Senia nodded to Clarfax as she cradled her tea. “What elthe did we get for tranthmissionth?”
“General Gerring sent us a complete manifest of all the bounty hunters stationed at Pau Theta II,” he said as she set his tea cup down. “She suggested the one we could best associate with is Lenk Farspear. Felanus, from the southern continent of Vulpinia. Seems he’s made a bit of a name for himself, and doesn’t like to shy away from the spotlight. Gerring says he likes to shatter the stereotype of bounty hunters.” He shuffled through the transmissions and held up a data pad. “This one is a greeting from Captain Marr at the Main Authority headquarters. She said we should report to the main office upon arrivel. Fortunately, Agent Farspear will take us there when we land. I guess he’s supposed to be going on leave after we arrive.”
“Well, we’ll have a rather toned down greeting, I suspect,” Hardy said as she checked over the engine monitors for the fifteenth time during the trip. She caught the look both Clarfax and Senia gave her. “What?” she said with a laugh. “I like to hear the hum and make sure everything is running smoothly.”
“You’re jutht excited about thith ship, aren’t you?” Senia replied with a chuckle.
“Alright, I admit it,” she replied with a sheepish look. “I do enjoy this new ship, and I like to hear her purr when she’s at full power. And I admit, I’m looking forward to get a chance to see her separate and get behind the stick.” She grinned as she settled back in her seat. “This ship has power, you can just feel it.”
“I think we’re all a little excited by that,” Senia replied. “We jutht have to remember, we need to keep our wits about uth. No letting the power of her get uth in over our headth.”
“We have to stick together,” Clarfax added. “We make a better team if we’re coordinated. Just like the practise runs we performed at the academy.”
“As I recall,” Hardy said with a chuckle. “There were five of us. Philly and Jadda were just as tenacious in their training.”
“It’th too bad they couldn’t have joined uth,” Senia said with a small sigh. They were her friends, after all. At least they knew Philburt had his sights sent on the 103rd. Jadda’s removal from the academy was a surprise, however. Though, with this new assignment, maybe they’d get a chance to see her again.
“That reminds me,” Clarfax called out as he picked up another data pad. “Another message came through. This one from Jadda.”
“Really? Well, go on, read it,” Senia said as she sat up in her chair.
“Let’s see here,” Clarfax said as he read it over. “Here we go. ‘Dear Senia, Clary, and Hardy. Hope you’re well and settled into your new positions. We’ll probably see a lot of each other in the space lanes, as I have just joined the salvage ship, ‘The Sifter’. She’s an interesting ship, built predominantly for tearing apart abandoned ships and salvaging anything of value. The captain, a Jayna tribe Jackai named Red Streak, informed me that the main duty of each officer in charge of reclamation is to catalogue and inventory each part. Anything that is weapons technology, we have to find out whether it is Critainia, Vulpine or Pantheran and contact the proper authorities to hand it over without question. Selling weapons technology is risky at best, and Red Streak says she’d rather not have a target on the back of her ship.” Clarfax sipped his tea before continuing. “There is some aspect of home here. Our science officers are both from Vulpinia. Robert Evenfoot, an excitable Felanus who seems to be amazed by absolutely everything he sees in space. I already can see that to him, the universe is a marvel not to be feared, but to be explored.” Clarfax stopped as the three of them chuckled, trying to imagine it before he continued. “The other is an older vixen who has taken it upon herself to take us both under her wing. She’s been aboard the Sifter for a few years and has earned the respect of crew. I’ll send you a letter in a week or two. We are about to head into the Pantheran sector. All my love, Jadda.”
Clarfax set the data pad down and smiled. Senia nodded as she let the words bounce through her head once or twice. It was good to hear from a friend, and know that they won’t be separated forever. Even Hardy was quiet as she finished her tea and began to clean up the tea cups and tea pot, getting them ready to be stored away.
As the mid afternoon tea had wound down, the communications relay signalled, an incoming transmission was being received. Clarfax flipped a few switches and sent the usual greeting. “This is the Nighthawk, receiving transmission. Go ahead.”
“Nighthawk, this is Captain Marr of the Main Authority headquarters,” the voice said over the comm. “Our sensors have picked you up, and it seems you are within range. I take it you’ll be about ten minutes before docking?”
“Yeth, Captain,” Senia called out as she turned her chair back to her controls. Both Hardy and Clarfax settled into their own chairs and began to monitor ship’s systems. “We have the landing protocolth and are ready for approach. We’ll thee you in the thtation.”