The Minor Adventures of Av'lee Sendii
Chapter 2

     Glancing at the clock, Av’lee restrained the urge to bellow “Corps” to get to the head of the line. She had only been on Atheena III for three days but already was beginning to realize just how wonderful the Corps was compared to civilian life. Just buying groceries, as a civilian took four times as long than if she was in uniform and on shore leave.
     Slapping away a hand trying to get into her jacket, Av’lee adjusted the basket on her hip. At 5’8” her height alone signaled her good health and to the shorter, weaker people that she was either former Corps, which for her age seemed unlikely, or she was a member of relatively good standing within the Piao, the black market.
     Groceries paid for and out of the crush of the store to that of the streets, Av’lee twisted her way through the streets, careful to avoid the beggars and thieves along side the blank stretches of building walls and the side near the road where she could potentially “trip” and be hit by a moving vehicle. Reaching the block where her building was, Av’lee’s sharp eyes looked about without moving her head for any potential problems. Stepping up to the building’s lone door she impressed her hand for a scan. At the soft click she pulled the door open quickly and slipped in before anyone could slide in after her. Shutting the door firmly behind her, she headed up the littered steps to the fourth floor. Walking down the equally littered hall she arrived at her room at the corner of the building. Again, the handprint scanner, which unlocked the cover for the archaic key lock, sticking the key in she turned it. Unlocking the door she slipped inside. Dropping the two bags, she shoved the heavy door shut, reactivated the hand scanner and locked the two locks on the inside.
     Prowling through the simple two-room apartment, her trained eye looking for any discrepancies or loosened window coverings. Satisfied she went back to the narrow entry way and retrieved her bags. Muttering longingly for fresh food she shoved the freeze-dried and canned food into the cupboards in the small kitchen.

     Picking up the sealed letter she slipped off the knee-high lace up boots and settled herself crossed legged on her ornately carved stone bead. Pressing her thumb to the seal she flipped it over, dumping out a handwritten letter and a military vid disk. Slipping off the bed Av’lee stuck the forefinger on either hand into two ornate carvings. Pushing her fingers in as far as she could her fingernails very barely brushing the touch pads within. Typing in the codes simultaneously she withdrew her hands as a soft hiss was heard as the seal broke. Pushing the lid all the way off the bottom, Av’lee pulled out the military issue vid viewer from the internal confines of her bed she inherited from Frrr’lk when she and Chamberlign left Freya IV.
     Not liking to have her secret so blatantly obvious, although her windows were supposedly opaque, Av’lee popped the vid disk into the player, she lifted the lid and slid it in place but didn’t seal it.  Slipping the earbug into place she hit the play button on the player and nearly swallowed her tongue in shock when Admiral Anasazai Fox’s image appeared on the small screen.  Like all of the civilian and most of the Corps, Av’lee had thought the brilliant Admiral Fox had perished sabotaging the Rass’ark base that was building a faster more maneuverable ship, the Nemesis; as the public was told. Her heart settled down enough for her to listen to her orders.

     “…by now Commander, I’m sure your shock has dispelled and your anxious to know just when you will be getting out of the hell hole of civilian life.
 2 days from receiving this you will go down to the civilian starport. Go to bay 42 and look for the freighter the Valkarie. Her Captain is Andrew Whitmoore. The Captain is pure civilian, however, his first officer, Georgia Mallory, is a captain in the Black Corps and goes by the name of Jacqii. Captain Whitmoore is looking for a new pilot. It will be up to you to convince the Captain to take you on. After the Valkarie has left port you will receive more orders.
     You will be able to play this message one more time before this disk will become utterly useless for information retrieval.
     Admiral Fox out.”

     With that the image of Admiral Fox winked out. Taking in a deep breath to stifle the adrenaline and excitement spinning inside of her, Av’lee replayed the message, this time committing every last detail to memory. Withdrawing the disk, its innards obviously melted, the information irretrievable. Tossing it into the trash before stowing the vid player back in her bed. Upon hearing the slight suction click as she sealed up her bed, Av’lee picked up the hand-written letter and settled onto the bed and ripped it upon hurriedly upon seeing Joshua Choi’s name on the outside. Her elation quickly fell in on itself as she scanned the short note:

Unfortunately I won’t be able to visit your new quarters. Shore leave was cancelled and all personal recalled.
 Be well,

     Reading it again she crumpled it up and tossed it into the trash and sat there disappointed staring out the single window which looked across the building, the busy road and at the opaque windows of more apartments.

     Av’lee spent the next day relaxing unwilling to go out into the public until she absolutely had to. She didn’t want to miss her appointment with Captain Whitmoore for any reason. Stepping out of her small apartment, she ran her hand though her short red hair, tugged uncomfortably at the 2 piece outfit she wore. It was going to take her awhile to get used to not wearing a Corps jumpsuit. Slipping the simple leather jacket on she zipped it up half-way as she half-ran down the stairs and out of the building, heading towards the nearest subway entrance.
 Paying the small fee, Av’lee hopped the spaceport train. Grabbing the handhold she hung on for the hour long trip at a fast speed to the Port. Hopping off she clambered up the two flights of stairs to the main level of the Port and hurried off to Bay 42 moving in and out between clumps of gangs, drunken freighter captains, prostitutes, merchants and the occasional pair of Corps security. Slowing down as she neared the big letters proclaiming the entrance to Bay 42, Av’lee tugged down her jacket needlessly and walked into the bay and looked about.
     As a trained Corps officer it took her but a moment at looking at the Valkarie, effectively on the blocks being repaired, to notice that it was not only a civilian cargo ship, it was also a smuggler’s ship.
     “Excuse me… do you have business here?”

     Av’lee swung around, a bit more startled then she should have been and found herself staring at the bulky chest of an obviously well built male. Tilting her head upwards, she cleared her throat nervously and held out her hand.

     “Av’lee Sendii… here to apply for the pilot’s position.”

     She slowly dropped her hand as the male continued to stare stonily down at her as he blanked out momentarily, his eyes never leaving her.

     “Capt’n! Got a pilot looking for you.”

     Av’lee swallowed convulsively. She considered herself a brave woman, but in the last four days she had watched her whole life be thrown topsy turvy. She had been booted from the only life she had ever known, been forced into civilian life, had a few hopes crushed, received orders from a woman most of the known population thought was dead and was now facing this enormous Caucasian male who, in Av’lee’s strung out mind, could crush her with one of his hands.
     Turning quickly at the sound of boots on the deck, Av’lee looked upon a mauve skinned , narrowly built male who nodded once before stopping 3 feet from her.

     “I’m Captain Andrew Whitmoore. I understand from Wally here that you’re a pilot?”
 Unfazed by the maroon skinned Bilarians, as she’s worked with the species before, she nodded.
     “That’s right. Names Av’lee Sendii and I understand you have a need of a pilot.” She gave a meaningful look at the beat up Valkarie behind Whitmoore, “a good pilot.”

     She glanced at the lean Asian woman with deep green hair, pale green skin and gills just below her jawbones before looking back to Whitmoore.
     “Your Corps.”

     She blinked startled. “Was. How…?”

     He and the greenish woman chuckled. “There are not many who can give a Bilarian and a Prydeir one look without being startled. Only Corps officers have been around our species enough not to care.”

     “Why’d you leave?” Came the silky voice of the female.

     Av’lee mentally cursed herself for her foolishness for not thinking up a cover story before coming into the bay. Stalling she looked around the bay stealthy. She opened up her mouth to give a lame excuse about wanting another life when her eyes lit upon a container of Feelf salts; a rare delicacy of the Rass’ark. Taking a risk she looked Whitmoore in the eye. “I can speak Rassiarn,” and left it at that. Keeping her eyes intently upon him as the other male and woman alternated between busting up and scoffing at her words. Both of their jaws dropped when the Captain spoke: “Your hired,” and walked off, calling over his shoulder. “Get her vitals in the computer.”

     Av’lee visibly blinked at that. “That’s…that’s it?!”

     Andrew paused and looked over his shoulder. “ You were a Corps trained pilot were you not?”

     Grudgingly, “Well… yes, a fighter pilot and an security officer.”

     Whitmoore shrugged, “well there you go. Interview over. You have the job. Now quit wasting my time. JACQUII!” He bellowed as he stormed off. The light green woman crooked a finger at Av’lee and sauntered off towards the Valkarie.

    Walking into the small office, Av’lee noted the wires drooping from the ceiling and circuits exposed along the south wall. Gesturing to an overturned box the woman grabbed a file box placed it on the grown. Settling into her chair she passed over a set of 2 pads and a stylus as she activated her own desk top computer.

    “Your Corps number?”

    Av’lee nearly retorted that she wasn’t in the Corps anymore before her mind clicked that civilians had Corps numbers as well.

    Nodding for her to fill out the documents, the other woman keyed in Av’lee’s number and studied the official public records that were pulled up while Av’lee herself worked on the bureaucratic paperwork needed to file when one gets a new job.
Nearly 2 hours later the green woman, her gills nearly still from her quite breathing, reentered the office and watched Av’lee sign her name on the last line.

    “Done? Good, come with me.”

    Turning on her heel the woman swept out. Following on her heels, Av’lee kept her eyes and ears open; unsure what would be important for Admiral Fox to know. Stepping into what was obviously the engine room she looked around at the nearly standard freighter machinery. Keeping pace with the other woman who had yet to introduce herself. Gesturing to the large human. “That is Galen, our gunner when we run into,” The woman paused ever so slightly. “When we near hostile territories, other wise he’s our assistant engineer.”

    Walking around the core, Av’lee following doggedly at her heels, the woman gestured to two lean beings, obviously twins, one male, one female and apparently of the same species as Av’lee’s escort: Nre’thra.
    “This is Nal’in’tal, our engineer and this is Nor’hin’tal, our cargo chief.” She paused and gave a calculating look to Av’lee. “I’m sure you know how to address one of the Nra’thra species?”

    Keeping her face neutral, she nodded as she turned to address the twins. “Good to meet you Nal, Nor.” Turning her attention to the other woman. “I’m well aware that only the first prefix is the personal name, second gender, and finally family name.”

    The Nre’thra woman who had been escorting her around gave a half nod before walking out, giving a little motion to indicate Av’lee should follow, she nodded hurriedly to the twins before following her silently for a few moments before deciding that it was about time that this woman should tell Av’lee her name.
    “And what, may I ask, is your name?”

    Not answering, the woman continued walking until she arrived at the small cramped offices of the first officer and knocked. Upon hearing the affirmative answer she poked her head in. “Our new pilot ma’am.”

    Gesturing Av’lee in she spoke briefly. “My name is Xylian” and walked out leaving Av’lee there.

    Looking baffled, she stepped into the office, after the door slid shut she turned to face first officer Jacqii. “Why is her name only Xylian? I mean..” She swallowed slightly at Jacqii’s neutral face. “She certainly looked like a Nre’thra…”

    Jacqii glanced past the door and back at her. “That’s for her to tell you. Now, I see our ships’ computers are processing your paperwork as soon as its done we’ll  send notice to the Central Mainframe giving notice of your addition to our crew. Its Tuesday now, we depart early Thursday morning..” She paused to pass across a couple vid disks. “These have the relevant specs for your position as pilot. I suggest you memorize them. Additionally, the Capt’n wants you on board by Wednesday night. Now,” She paused again to lean back slightly in her chair and look Av’lee up and down a moment. “Are there any questions I can answer for you?”

    Av’lee sat there quietly meeting Jacqii’s level gaze as she thought. Tentatively she responded. “Is there anything specific I should wear?”

    “You mean like a uniform? No we don’t. Simply wear clothing that won’t hinder you in zero-g work.”

    Av’lee nodded, surmising that this allowed Whitmoore the added benefit of his crew to be unknown at a glance incase he got into trouble with some of his “clientele” or to easily disassociate himself if one of his crew gets into trouble.

    Jacqii waited a moment longer before saying with more than a touch of impatience. “Any other questions?”

    Hearing that danger tone she had heard in so many flight deck operators after coming in from a particularly unconventional flight, Av’lee quickly spoke. “My bed…”

    “What about it? You’ll get one of our 10x15x10 quarters just like a majority of our crew.”

    “What I mean … ma’am, is that I have this …rock bed that I inherited from my mother she um..” Av’lee scrambled for a plausible reason, “ died while fighting the Rass’ark.”

    Jacqii nodded sympathetically, thinking a moment she pulled up some information on her desk computer. “Any possessions you have in your quarters must meet these safety guidelines. Additionally everything you bring must be storable in your own quarters. No storage is provided.”

    Av’lee nodded as Jacqii passed over the information. “Now get out of here! I’ve got work to do. Just be sure to be back for launch.”

    Av’lee nodded hurriedly. With several data pads clutched to her chest she scrambled out the door and headed home, mentally cursing herself for not thinking up good stories and alternating that with praise for successfully getting herself onboard the Valkerie.

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