The events in this story take place before the events in Swift Fox and the Pirates of the Jackai.
To any Vulpine, a chance to serve within the ranks of the Royal Vulpine Authority was a great honour. Many hear the stories of past achievements since they were only kits. These stories are the reason why there is such a large volunteer base at recruiting offices. This was no different for Senia Felix.
Senia Felix was a young vixen, fresh out of the academy, graduated top of her class. She was a student of detail, from the crispness of her dress uniform, to the sheen of her fur, and even remembering small details about cadets placed in her command during academy training. Many of the cadets looked up to her, and were not surprised when she was promoted quickly to the rank of left-tenant.
With all of those credentials, Senia would have felt confident at her application review to enter full service for the Royal Vulpine Air Corps, an elite group of fighter pilots, and home of the legendary 76th. Senia had heard the rumours, however. They weren’t quiet enough to miss. They were as clear as the handicap Senia had.
Felix was an incredible pilot, quick study, and a loyal officer as a cadet, and many believed that would continue on in whatever branch of the Royal Vulpine Authority Senia wished to enter into. But there was also the harsh lisp she had, that some believed would be a set back for her. Oh, her classmates tried to bolster her spirits, saying that Senia’s speech impediment actually made cadets pay closer attention to orders, and thereby pay closer attention during training exercises. But in the Royal Vulpine Air Corps, Senia wouldn’t be an officer in command of a squadron, but just another left-tenant in a sea of pilots.
Senia hide her impatience as she waited at ease in front of the desk that the three Colonels were reviewing and discussing the application in hushed tones. Hard to whisper around a Vulpine, their ears giving them such excellent hearing, after all. She ignored the whispering, nonetheless, concentrating on her lessons and what she knew about fighter pilot training. Even though she was impatient, she remained perfectly still as she stood in front of the desk, one arm tucked neatly behind her back, her full red and white tail moving very slowly, her other arm holding her dress cap lightly against her side. Still, it was much like holding one’s breath for far too long.
The three colonels, meanwhile, continued to mull over the information before them. All of them were far more experienced Vulpine; two females and one male. But only one of them, a white furred female, was a member of the famed 76th Air Squadron. It was this colonel who finally spoke up.
“Left-tenant Felix,” she announced as she removed a pair of spectacles from her snout. Her dress uniform, while much more decorated than Felix’s was, was just as crisp and sharp as the left-tenant’s, right down to her name plate that hung above a small row of medals. Colonel Masters, it read. “We are most pleased that a cadet of your abilities and your reputation has put in for regular service with the Royal Vulpine Air Corps.”
There was a pause, and Senia knew what was about to come.
“However,” Masters continued as she held up a dossier holding Senia’s service record. “We are worried that your… handicap could pose a problem.”
“I assure you, Colonel,” Senia replied with a nod of respect to the three Colonels. “I am fully aware I have a thpeech impediment, but that hath not hampered my abilitieth, nor hath it hampered any of the cadetth who therved under me.”
“I understand, Left-tenant,” Masters said with a nod, then held up a hand to halt any protest Felix might have. “But things are different in the Corps. The other pilots have a great deal more experience in the field than you will. They don’t take kindly to having to learn something knew, especially language.” Masters opened a docket and flipped through several papers before speaking again. “It is our recommendation, however, that your abilities would still serve extremely well with the Main Authority.”
Main Authority, Felix thought to herself. “You mean, ath a bounty hunter.”
“Yes, Left-tenant,” Masters replied with a nod as she tucked her spectacles away in her jacket pocket. “The Royal Vulpine Authority is not in the habit of wasting talented individuals.” Masters rose to her feet and held out a data pad toward Felix. “Here are your orders, Left-tenant. You will join the transport ship, the RVA Cartal at 1500 hours the day after tomorrow where you will be shuttled to PauTheta II colony.” Pau Theta II colony, a small station on the largest moon orbiting Vulpinia. Calling it a colony was sort of ironic, considering it mostly held crews that served the maximum security penitentiary and those who were members of the Main Authority, bounty hunters included. A thankless location for a thankless assignment.
Senia tentatively stepped forward, still letting her mind process the information she had just received. It had all come so quickly. All her hard work, just washed away because she happened to speak with a lisp. Part of her wanted to give up, but she refused to break down in front of superior officers. “Underthtood, Colonel.”
“You are a fine officer, Left-tenant,” Masters remarked quickly as Felix took the data pad. “You should be proud of your accomplishments, and I expect to see the same work from you with the Main Authority.” Masters snapped to attention as the other two colonels rose and saluted Felix. “Good luck, Left-tenant. And may the Great Mother be with you.”
Senia showed no sign of disappointment as she returned the salute with equal authority as the Colonel, but deep inside she knew that this was not what she wanted for her career with the Interplanetary Authority. Even still, she would make the best of it.