First and foremost, this was a promised birthday present to my Aunt Leanne, who also happens to be my godmother, and that means if I failed to deliver I’d essentially be letting down two important people in my life for the price of one. Also worthy of pointing out: she offered me a rest-stop at her house on my journey back from Chicago, and that’s an offer that could easily be taken away in the event I forgot to, say, appropriately celebrate her birthday. I’m pretty sure she turned 29 today (or whatever year people pick after they no longer want to count birthdays, I guess). Yeah. We’ll stick with that.
Here’s today’s installment, before I dig myself into a deeper hole.
Warpt Factor – Installment Seven
The Lofty Albatross shook as another poorly-aimed long-distance rocket missed by a fair bit. Izzy and CMO Carter stood in silence, neither having spoken a word since their brief introductions.
“That one was closer,” Fontaine said. He paced as he spoke, fidgeting with both sets of arms. “They’ll hit us next time for sure. Can our shields even handle that?”
Brannigan shook his head. “Entanglement beam probably drained the shields. I’d reckon that’s why Spiral Reach had that feature done away with before testing the waters with more hostile-like societies.” Brannigan looked over the ships controls, making only a few calculated gestures here and there.
“At least an hour until she’s back up and running properly,” Brannigan said. Fontaine paced even more rapidly, his fidgeting even worse. Several moments of silence passed, interrupted finally by another, much closer, explosion.
Fontaine marched up to Izzy and CMO Carter, both sets of arms crossed in front of his thorax. “Well? Have you two got a plan yet? Or is your plan to just let us all die in here?”
CMO Carter glanced at First Mate deCourville. “Is he always this excitable?”
“At least for the short time I’ve been captain,” Izzy said, a momentary frown crossing her face as she spoke.
“Much longer ‘n that, really,” Brannigan said. He placed a hand over his mouth, hints of red visible through the dense growth of his beard.
“None of this is helping!” Fontaine said. He thrashed his arms about, his carapace taking on a harsh orange tone with each word he hissed out.
Some distance away, in a location not being bombarded by potentially lethal weapons, High Chancellor Kadimova sat at his desk. It was time for his morning cup of tea, he’d decided, though it was well past noon. He sipped from his antique tea cup, eyes shut, and smiled as notes of jasmine washed over him.
The High Chancellor sighed quietly, setting his tea cup carefully onto its saucer. “Yes, do come in.” The office door slid open, and one of the latest batch of interns who wanted to become the next big thing in intergalactic politics shuffled in.
Kadimova squinted, his brow lined with wrinkles, as he eyed the intern. “Johnson, right?” High Chancellor Kadimova said. “Never forget a face. I’ve got a mind like a steel trap.”
The intern cleared his throat. “Richard, sir. My older brother was Johnson.”
“Ah, of course,” Kadimova said. “How is he these days? Internship lead to great new things, I’m sure.”
“Murdered by roaming space-pirates,” Richard said, averting his gaze.
High Chancellor Kadimova cleared his throat. “Yes, well. Terrible loss. What can I help you with? Before you tell me he was a monstrous bastard.” Kadimova leaned forward in his chair, his eyes locked with Richard’s.
“There’s a good deal of activity on Rigel Six, and the ship you’ve requested we monitor has landed,” Johnson said.
Kadimova leaned forward, a twinkle in his eyes. “The Lofty Albatross, yes! Excellent. Bring it up on the screen.” Johnson held out the interoffice hologram projector. An image from the Lofty Albatross’ interior appeared. Izzy stood at the head of the ship’s bridge, her hands on her hips.
“We’re going to march on out there, face down the Ruklans, and talk them out of all this madness!” Izzy said, a fist high above her head and a victorious grin on her face. High Chancellor held a hand up to stop the transmission.
“Please retrieve me the emergency situations kit,” High Chancellor Kadimova said.
Johnson tilted his head, his expression quizzical. “Pardon, sir, but what’s the emergency situations kit?”
“My bottle of scotch and a glass, lad,” High Chancellor Kadimova said. “And next we speak, I’d suggest you work on being less of a downer. It’s the sort of behavior that will get you murdered by roaming space-pirates some day.”