“Your debt has been increased by 9,107 orn*.” Immediately followed the greatest news in his life. Before JOS had an opportunity to protest. Voiyn continued, “Acquiring them took time. Your omni-suits have taken time to earn. To date your earnings sum 9,107 orn. Now that you have them. Earn your place in my Horde.” Voiyn looked deep into JOS with those eyes. Releasing him, JOS felt relieved when his gaze focused on NaN.
The cool chill of excitement went down his spine when Voiyn stood his full 2.7 Units. His taloned gauntlet motioned for Essec to stand.
“This is as close to a ceremony you’ll get, we don’t really do fancy.” The smoothness of Essec’s fluid articulation put them both at ease. Even as he reached for the matte black cubes stacked in the corner of the compartment, every action minimal, sliding them across the metal flooring with is foot. A black Unit-Cube* at each of NaN, and JOS’s feet.
No longer would they be stuck being hangers-on aboard the ship, cleaning while the team did the important work. The fact OhkBD stayed onboard, felt more like a punishment, “Open them.” Essec instructed further.
JOS stared. At a loss for words. His first new thing, ever. And of all things an omni-suit!
Excitement overpowered reverence as JOS’s fingers eagerly undid the synth-metal* locks. Somehow his hands were moving on their own, lifting the lid. Inside, a really folded omni-suit, azure with white accents on the joints. Off to the corner a matching helmet, the vyinellin’s wings wrapped the crown, lined with white on an equally azure background.
“Wake me up, before I believe this is real.” NaN broke his focus. “You wouldn’t wake up if we tried anyway.” JOS quipped.
NaN glared for a sphere, suddenly his attention shifting down, “Pralo*, we’ve got matching suits.”
“We are ‘brothers.’”, JOS performed the two finger sign of a joke, the whole room snickered.
“If you’re going to copulate, please do so elsewhere.” OhkBD was probably going to focus on that the rest of the rotation. JOS rolled his eyes at the thought. Not even OhkBD’s dung flinging attitude could ruin the mood.
“Prepare yourselves now.” Voiyn commanded, scanning the rest of the circle, he ended the e.r.* council, “Adjourned.”
The black body slip felt tight and comfortable. JOS wiggled his toes feeling the silky material between them. “Who’s fantasizing now?” He shot NaN a look. “I can believe it, I didn’t think they’d ever let us off this thing except pick up garbage until we paid ’em back.”
“When he said our debt increased… I nearly blacked out.”
“Voiyn’s got a sense for funny pralo.” NaN smirked.
“I’m really starting to believe you about that.” JOS laughed to himself, thinking how the great reptiles timing was perfect. Totally aware of how intimidating he is, using it to create humor.
He’d left the omni-suit folded on top of its cube. Bending down to pick it up was like opening the case. The rough looking material felt strangely smooth as he admired the design and placement of white throughout. JOS slipped his limbs through the opening feet first. Then filling the gloves to the finger tips, the suit still seemed big.
Confused, but unrelenting JOS did up his mag tags. Attaching the final mag tag the suit shrunk. “Look!” NaN looked just as he finished his own, “What?!” Nan exclaimed incredulously.
Both suits fit to their bodies. JOS watching in amazement as the nanotech sealed the suit to the elements, it was beautiful. Matrices of light, twisting and twirling, making the suit its own self contained environment once the helmet was attached. Resisting the urge, JOS slid his feet back in his magboots.
“What a chance! Imagine if all those quovora* could see us.” JOS said, half to NaN, half to his reflection in the helmet.
“What if bÆW were here.” NaN laughed. JOS snickered instantly, imagining the poor boy who was terrified of everything. A giggle slipped out despite the empathy he felt for poor youngling still probably stuck in the Juxl Colony.
Dressed and ready, the two clasped hands grinning ecstatically, picking up their helmets and proceeding below to the hanger deck.
Like when they first arrived, JOS was unable to keep his eyes off the K8-Blackstar. The strange curve that made-up it’s crewspace and cockpit. The strange “personnel hold” that jut straight out into a beveled point matching the one under the cockpit. Lit well by the hanger lights, the K8 managed a bluish black shine, with accents of orange on the outboard equipment. Once in the void only sensors could see it, if they were strong enough.
OhkBD demonstrated how powerful the sensors needed to be to see it. The average ship might catch it if physically close enough, the K8 would destroy anything within the kind of range required. She was an invisible murderess in the dark. JOS was on edge from the excitement, as NaN and he approached the boarding lift.
“The order taken from Notan’s Pit is a Capture-Only hunt.” Voiyn began the prehunt assignments. “All experienced hunters will take support. You two, with me. Should you perform well, and follow instructions. One of you may get to take him yourself.” JOS was paralyzed, caught up in the thrill, his eyes locked into the amber slits of of Voiyn’s.
“Our target,” Voiyn spoke directly to NaN and him, “is a detprize*, caught trying to escape from the crew he was bought by. We’ll get the most orn for the least damage to it. Our chase may seem easy. Don’t underestimate anything fighting for its life.
“We are!” Voiyn started.
“VOIYN’S HOUNDS!” ,the crew finished, even the miniature onscreen OhkBD on the operator console.
“OhkBD, set our navigation to the last know location.” Voiyn ran the pack.
“Yahdah*, co-ords set, transferring with overlaps of most likely locations the little gærg is sneaking about.”, the lanky creature’s cackle sounded choked by the systems audio.
The sector began to draw itself in the center of the K8’s crew compartment as the data was organized. Their target’s estimated location appeared in a translucent gold sphere. K8’s a red sphere, everything else in blue. “We’ll jump here,” Voiyn’s golden, claw tipped finger pointed,”below, away from our standard orientation. Should he run. We push him into Essec and Vahl. He’s piloting a single man transport with basic defenses. If he is scared, you two disable his ship. No one get hurt for this one.” JOS heard a strange note in Voiyn’s voice. Was it, care? JOS refocused.
“Let’s go get your first.” Voiyn clapped both boys shoulders hard on way to the operator’s seat. Essec and Vahl were already in their jump seats facing center, along the bulkhead. Understanding the procedure JOS, and NaN took their seats as well.
Engines whined in a tinnitus ring as they strained to get K8 off the ground. JOS was beside himself feeling the positive g’s pushing on his body, as they exited Valevyinellin’s body. Essec winked reassuringly with his amphibious, hazel-grey eyes.
Far enough from the ship, K8 contracted. Gravity pulled from in front of, expanding the space behind it. K8 pulled itself across the “shortened” space from their current point, just outside the target’s sensor range.
*orn – currency throughout the Vale.
*synth-metal – an atomically configured carbon molecule mass, can be shaped into practically any shape, and any hardness science can allow.
*Unit-Cube – literally 1 Unit Cubed, standard size for storage containers.
*e.r. – early rotation the first 1000 Circuits of a rotation.
*quovora – those who are easily forgotten
*detprize – a typical bounty, usually a recently acquired crew member who escape their purchaser.
*yahdah – Roger!
To be continued next week…
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