The Minor Adventures of Av'lee Sendii
Chapter 3





    Av’lee had been on the Valkerie a full month and had yet to “meet” Captain Georgia Mallory. Granted she knew Georgia was Jacqii, however, Jacqii herself had also yet to meet with her after that first introduction. She floated in her quarters stewing over this minor predictive. She didn’t ask to be raised by Frrr’lk and had never seen any use to it until Admiral Fox wanted such an officer. Finally there seemed to be some point to Av’lee’s life, a way to be useful other than the usual boarder patrols; a way to be recognized.

    She opened her eyes with a start at the sound of the door chime. Rotating herself in the zero-g of her quarters she gripped the handle beside the door. Bouncing slight in the null gravity, Av’lee opened the door and blink startled at the face of the man only a mother could love. Not that he was ugly, but the slight fangs, furrowed brow that gave off a scaly appearance compounded with the slight fuzzy of what could only be fur over every visible surface of his body kind of made her feel thus. Av’lee was so startled by the appearance of one of the reclusive Ujvalas she nearly wet herself, for that was the only thing he could be. The Ujvalas were the stories of legends told by most lieutenants to fresh ensigns to scary the bejebers out of them on their first run. She remembered in a flash hearing the stories in the Royal Academy and hazily how she thought they were silly.

    She suddenly blinked and blushed beat red realizing the male had spoken to her whenshe was panicking and she had completely missed it. Highly embarrassed she nearly stuttered, “excuse me?”

    Flashing Av’lee what she hopped was a grin, giving her a greater glimpse of his fangs he spoke again. Startling enough with a slight British accent.

    “Me name is Niel. I'm the doc on the Valkerie.”

    Befores he could help herself she blurted out startled. “Your name is NEIL!? A Ujvalas and your name is NEIL!?”

    Like a five year old she quickly slapped her hands over her mouthed and blushed even redder, hurriedly, before Neil could reply her mouth went off at 100 kph.

    “You…see... I didn’t... you’re a Ujvalas??! I mean... sorry... its just... well.. I mean... honestly... I’m sorry... NEIL!?”

    Taking the pause in the rush of nonsense coming out of Av’lee’s mouth Neil spoke again. “'Ere now are you daft or wha? I said me bloomin’ naherme is Neil, do ye want to make sumthin’ of it?”

    Before she could let her mouth take off again Neil made a small gesture with his ear.“Bloody has been, get yer carcus down 'ere in 30!”

    With hat he walked off and Av’lee could have sworn he was humming. Shaking her head still startled she bounced back into her small quarters as her brain clicked slowly making the connection. She had assumed wrongly, that like an Corps ship the Valkerie had an osteo-field going at all times to make sure the crews bones did not develop osteoporosis nor that the muscles atrophied before they got ground side and are essentially crushed by the local gravity.

    Slipping into her light sweater, checking her boots and making sure the cover for her laces was securely fastened; she didn’t want to be floating down a corridor and getting her boot laces caught on something, Av’lee rose to her feet. Sliding out of her quarters, she put her feet on the doorframe and launched herself down the corridor towards the ladder. Upon contact she began to climb down towards the center of the ship where the Medical Bay was located. Gripping oneof the overhead handholds Av’lee looked around at a medical bay that was surprisingly modern compared the outward appearance of the rest of the ship.

    “Ready Ms. Sendii?”

    Av’lee squeaked, pushing off slightly from the deck plates with enough force to bump her head on the ceiling. From what Av’lee’s poor jogged noggen could make out, Doctor Neil appeared to be wearing a smirk as he led her over to a room with an all-in-one weight lifting system in a room with panels on the walls, floor and ceiling that were emitting a pale orange glow. Pausing just inside the room, her eyes widen in surprised, she glanced over her shoulder at the Ujvala beside her.

    “Yea Ms. Sendii, that’s gravity you feel. I see the Corps never bothers to teache its crew as to how civilian crafts do their osteo-therapy.” He nodded to a small changing room to the left that had a set of shorts and tank tops within: standard work out wear.

    Floating out after changing she paused as the doctor attached wireless receivers to her temple, heart and lungs before stepping into the room with its earth standard gravity. Forcing herself not to be to contemplate how much it would cost to put gravity plates without the need of Soles, she took a seat at the work outstation. She had already come off as the greenest of the green in Neil's eyes. Then again, she thought with a rueful grin, what better way to give herself a cover as a Black Corps officer. Taking a deep breath she began to work out all her muscles.

    Two hours later she had finished, changed, and seen the results of Neil's scans and was now on her way back to her quarters. Once inside she dropped her sweater on her chair and maneuvered over to her shower where she stripped down and grabbed her earplugs she stepped inside. Sliding the door shut, Av’lee checked to be sure the earplugs were securely in, as an Ensign she had had the unfortunate accident with her shower when the frequency it worked at accidentally jumped. She hadn't been wearing plugs at the time and had suffered eardrum damage severe enough to require surgery. With her ears securely protected, Av'lee activated the shower and closed her eyes as the purple indicator light began to flash rapidly.

    Yawning slightly she stepped out and grabbed at her clothing. Clambering into them she had almost finished zipping up her shirt when her eyes noticed the vid disk on her desk. Av’lee froze. She could have sworn she hadn't left one out. Quickly she glanced about her quarters without moving her head. The glance at the door's tell-a-tale light indicated it was still sealed. Still on guard she picked up the vid disk, flipping it over she looked for a definitive mark. Finding no one she went to her bed to retrieve her private vid viewer. She didn't want the on board computer to note her use of her desks viewer. Sitting down she stuck the disk in and waited until the image of Jacqii appeared onscreen. Av’lee sighed slightly relived, but still on the cautious side. She had expected this message almost two weeks ago.
 

    “Lt. Commander Sendii. I realize you expected this message some time ago and in truth you would have gotten them had I and by consequence your mission did not change.
The Valkerie is on its way to the Laruza system where we will dock to gathered additional fuel and cargo. While there you are hereby ordered to seek out the arms merchant Newt. She has invaluable information that is imperative that we get it and forward to our superiors Intelligence reports she can usually be found in the starport bar the Bloody Axe.
    It is also ordered that you begin conversing with someone who resides outside the Valkerie so once the information has been retrieved it can be piggy-backed on one of these transmissions.”

    Her face softened a bit. “I sympathized greatly Ms. Sendii. Had the need for you not been so great you would have been trained in depth in basic Black procedures prior to being placed in the field. As it is, trust your instincts. If you feel your being watched scrap the mission. Perhaps the mission information can be found elsewhere.

    Good luck Lt. Commander.

    Captain Mallory, out.”


    Indulging a moment Av’lee stared at the vid viewer before replacing both items in her bed and sealing it back up. Moving to her desk she activated her desk computer and began to record a lengthy message to her only friend who still cared that she was no longer in the Corps: Joshua Choi.
    She told him nearly everything yet she shied away from the fact the Valkerie was a smuggler's ship. Nor did she specify that the ship's doctor was a Ujvalian. Who knew who might read the message before Joshua received it.
The message completed she put a “recipients-eyes-only” code on it before transmitting. Almost immediately after transmitting, her personal alarm went off, warning her that she had 10 min before her duty shift began.

    Groaning slightly, she slipped into her boots and sweater. Bones still tingling from the osteo-therapy, Av’lee pushed off and headed for the bridge. A few minutes later she arrived and made her way over to the helm station. It was here that it became quite apparent the Valkerie was a bit more than a meager freighter. It wasn't that the equipment was all that modern, in truth it was at least 5 years old, however, the fact that the ship was able to afford enough gravity plates to produce a .5 gravity on the bridge spoke lengths about either the personnel wealth of the Captain or the skills of the engineers.

    Walking slow and precisely she slipped into the helm’s seat and began to strap in. She remembered fondly the first time she got to fly and how disgusted she was when she saw the belt that strapped her thighs and the harness that held her securely to the chair. She quickly lost that feeling when her flight instructor gave her horror stories of a ship being hit and then destroyed because in the first strike the pilot had been thrown clear of helm due to not being strapped in and no one had been able to get to the station in time to initiate evasive action before the attacks destroyed the ship. As young as she was, Av'lee wasn't quite certain if this was true or not but figured that perhaps wearing the harness wasn't that bad of an idea after all.

    All strapped in she pushed a button on the side of her chair and waited as it slid to the U shaped station. Typing in her code she unlocked the station and brought it out of automatic pilot. Five hours into her 8 hour shift, Captain Whitmoore arrived on the bridge, with what Av’lee had come to think of his“sour lemon” face and walked over to his center chair. Coming in behind him was Jacqii who took the communications station.

    “ETA?”
    “We're 10 min out of the Laruza Station.”
    “Jacq, request a port.” He paused and thumbed a button on his chair.
    “Cargo Bay”
    “Bridge here. Wally, get Nor’hir’tal and prepare for cargo transfer.”
    “Da Capt'n!”
    “Laruza Station responding. We have clearance for Port 12A as soon as we transmit our official ID and our intent.”
    “Transmit the ID and tell ‘em we're here for cargo transfer and a short leave.”
    There was a pause as Jacqii relayed what Whitmoore had said. “…… Clearance granted Captain. We are free to dock.”

    Whitmoore nodded and looked to Av'lee's station. “It's all yours pilot.”

    Av'lee nodded and then focused all her attention on the screens in front of her. Flying
 something with the mass and shape of the Valkerie is infinitesimally more difficult then flying her corps fighter was. Slowing the Valkerie to almost a complete stop, she fired the port thrusters briefly and waited until the belly of the ship faced the Station before firing the starboard thrusters to stop the freighter's roll. Now the Valkerie was “sideways” relative to the imaginary ground point of view. Reaching a hand out from the grip on her control panel Av’lee fired the rear thrusters, eyes locked onto her monitors that were displaying how close the Valkerie was in relation to the other ships that were docked and Laruza station. Technically, Av'lee's maneuvers weren't authorized in any book except the unwritten hotshot pilot's guide.
    Her eyes kept flicking back and forth from the readouts showing the distance between the ships and the Valkerie and the ones giving off the distance between the station and the Valkerie while the rear thrusters continued their burn.
    Her mind registered one of her screens alert light flashing pretty rapidly. Lifting her head slightly to check she saw the Valkerie was nearing the dock quadrant they had been assigned. Lowering the thrust of the rear Av’lee maneuvered the freighter until t was within 75 meters out from Laruza. She bit back a smirk at the in drawn breath of Whitmoore and Jacqii before returning her attention to flying. The dock indicator flashed faster, counting softly to herself to five, Av’lee activated a short burst of the forward thrusters, bringing the Valkerie to a dead stop. Firing the thrusters again she edged the ship closer to the station until it was 25 meters out.

    Sticking out a steady hand she pushed in a small series of buttons as she spoke, "activating docking mechanism.” The locks on the docking tube were released from the cargo deck and shot out across the 25 meters to connect to the hull of the station.
Another quick series of buttons pushed. “Sealing…”

    Av'lee waited until the indicator lights turned green across the board before pushing another series of buttons. “Pressurizing…”

    The lights flashed briefly before switching to green. Turning her head as much as she could in the pilot's harness she spoke to Whitmoore. “We're green across the board Captain. Docking is good.”

    There was a long pause before she heard Whitmoore's voice from somewhere behind her. "So I see...” another pause as he pushed himself up from his seat and walked beside her chair and looked down at her. “You really were a fighter pilot.”

    She flashed a grin at him before Jacqii spoke up from communications. “Captain? Laruza
 Station sends its greetings ... and a request for a new docking pilot next time.”

    “Send our compliments.” He paused and glanced at Av’lee before moving towards the ladder as he continued speaking to Jacqii. “Had we used another pilot we'd be docking for half the day.” He paused again and got a thought full look before nodding decidedly to himself. “Inform the crew that we can have three days of leave once we've dealt with the cargo.”

    Jacqii nodded, “aye Captain.” As soon as he looked away and headed off to the bridge, she shot Av’lee an annoyed look. Only catching it out of the corner of her eye, Av’lee did her best to hold off a smirk. She wasn't surprised that Jacqii was annoyed with her. She certainly hadn't gone out of her way to make Av’lee feel wanted or to, at the very least, help her with things she should, in theory, know as a member of the Black Corps. Av’lee had to admit, in this case she knew why Jacqii was annoyed, drawing that much attention to the Valkerie with her flight moves in an area where she was about to meet an informant probably wasn't such a hot idea.

    Turning back to her station, she began to lock down procedures; locking down the exhaust, extending the two magnetic “claws” to steady the Valkerie against Laruza, etcetera. 3 hours later all the docking checklists had been completed and all cargo had been transferred to the cargo bay on Laruza station. In her quarters Av’lee slipped a small ovaloid item into the heel of her boots, where her soles would have gone had she been on a Corps vessel. Sliding a small spring powered dart gun no bigger than her hand into the inner pocket of her coat she stood. The quality of Laruza Station made the need to ban energy weapons an obsolete necessity, however, in case of a scan was done while she went to Newt, Av’lee wanted to be sure she was armed in some manner.

    Pulling herself into the docking tube, Av’lee stumbled as her boots came down hard into the full gravity. She pursed her lips at the soft snickering behind her. Tugging her jacket down she swallowed a huff and walked the length of the tube. Stepping out into the cargo bay the Valkerie had rented, she walked through a group of sleepy customs officers, more than likely just hanging around to receive their bribe from Whitmoore. She continued walking until she was suddenly in the Station proper. Swallowing Av’lee quickly thought of the Marines. Looking about she slipped into the nearest bar. Ordering an ale she settled into a small table that gave her a view of the whole bar and the door. She had only been there an hour when a group of 3 men came into the establishment. Loud and boisterous they accosted the bartender before he could retreat and have one of his servers deal with them. While his two buddies continued their loud laughter and conversation, the leader moved to the far side of the bar, away from Av’lee. Straining her ears, her head slightly cocked as it rested on her hand. Av’lee felt her expression perk up slightly as she picked up a few words.
“Newt wants it…. Your late.”

    Raising her glass to her mouth she frowned as she noticed the glass was empty. Sighing, she shook it looking for all appearances like a pilot on her last glass. Pushing to her feet she left the bar, turning to the left as she went. Moving down the rows of shops, she stepped into one that was selling bolts of what looked like Earth silk. Slipping between the freestanding bolts and the layers hanging from the ceiling she glanced about. The shop didn't extend to deep and was run by a single person. Moving as far back as she could and still see the entrance to the bar she began to peruse the silks. Running her hands through the rack of scarves in front of her, Av’lee barely noticed the quality of the items she was rifling through. After she had been there over 30 min, slowly moving through out the store she finally heard the voices of the group of men die down. Glancing over in what she hopped was a casual enough manner at the bar she saw they were walking in her general direction. Moving back to the original rack, Av’lee quickly picked out a handkerchief and moved to the back of the shop to pay for it.

    Payment completed, she shoved the scarf into her coat pocket and stepped into the main fray of Station traffic just in time to see the group of three enter yet another bar, the Bloody Axe. Making her way slowly down the length of Vender's Row, Av’lee approached the bar with some trepidation. Doing all she could to come off as a new pilot at her first station. Entering the bar she nearly stumbled in shock. Unlike most station bars she had been to that were maybe, if very prosperous, two decks in height, the Bloody Axe was three full decks. Quickly taking a seat after ordering another A’lidany Ale, Av’lee studied the bar a bit more closely. As usual, the bar could be found at the far end of the first level. The stairs were kept away from the bar so clients couldn't swipe free drinks. Tilting her head upwards Av’lee corrected her early supposition. The public area of the bar was indeed two stories, however, it was quite obvious from the first level that the third was for private guests only. The burly guards pushing drunken customers away made that apparent enough.

    An exclamatory shout drew her attention back to the first level and to a corner table where the group of men she had been following were holed up playing some sort of game involving cards, knives and dice, from all appearances, as well as the ever present drink.

    Finishing her ale, Av’lee rose and made her way to the bar. Deftly sliding between a few of the more chunky customers she ordered a bottle of the ale she so loved and a clean glass. Both securely in hand she backed out of the grid lock and moved over to a new table in the corner that gave her a general view of the bar, but most importantly of the human male and his group of buddies, as well as an entrance of the third floor. Av’lee sat at her corner table for a good five hours, occasionally moving to the gaming table, sometimes flirting with other freighter pilots before retiring for the night. She was back again 4 hours later making the rounds at the various bars on Vender's row before ending up at the Bloody Axe Where she stayed well into the Station's “day” of her third day of leave.

    Six hours left of her shore leave Av’lee was sitting in a both on the second floor cradling her drink. Occasionally a drunk would stumble along and attempt to sit with her. Av’lee, feigning to be drunk would growl at them until they wandered off again. Lifting her drink to her lips to sip again she frowned and open one eye to glower down at her empty glass.

    “Need a refill?”

    She blinked startled and looked up. Squinting through the murky lightning into the eyes of the human male she had been watching off and on for the last two and half nights. Startled at not hearing him approach, her first thought was that she had been discovered, but that was quickly dismissed and the inkling that he could lead her to Newt sparked in her mind. She only had five hours left before the Valkerie left ... with or without her. Reigning herself in, she smiled up at him.

    “I'd love one.” Nodding to the nearly empty glass in his hand. “you?”

    A slow broad grin crawled across his face. Taking Av'lee's extended hand he pulled her upright. His arm wrapped around her waist he moved to the entrance of the third floor. Speaking gruffly for the two smirking guards to move aside he led her upstairs.
 


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