Returning Part One
I'm going to be honest right off the bat. This was writtein way back when I was still in highschool Literally it was almost 10 years ago and yes I hate the fact that I can say that! Up until now there has only been a few furs to read this and each one said 'clean up the spelling and submit it' so I am! Fair warning though, there is no 'sex' in this particular installment although there is a seed of a relationship building. The next thing I would like to mention is that if you have any major objections of me 'borrowing' or 'mixing' different sci-fi series toegeather, don't read on! (Voyager and Starfox but the contact between the two is more incidental than cridical). Its long, so get readyf or ab it of a ride into my emagination when I was a ball of walking hormones (when has that stopped...?)
Returning: The Gathering
The planet of Corneria, a blue sphere that floated silently in space. Primarily a water planet, only a few species ever evolved. Several times the planets time line was set to zero, the time of the Quadrupeds, the rise of spirituality (which never really fades away), the time of Rebuilding, and now the time of XPT, extraplanetary travel. As time passed and the stellar core began to settle and cool, this fourth planet of this solar system began to harbor the life that would one day rule it. First the single celled, then the fish, then the amebids, amphibians. Some of these amphibians still live on today, but have taken a different path than what was expected. Soon see mammals began to inhabit the seas, feeding on the small fish. Soon some of the smaller of the sea mammals began to push they're way onto the shore. Soon Species of canids and felines began to roam the planet rocky surface.
For a long time, they stayed much the same, until one day. A chunk had broken away from the fifth planed of the system after a collision with a comet. This chunk of frozen rock and ice carried with it a radioactive charge with it. Slamming into the surface of the blue ball of water, it spread its material over the planet, blackening the skies from its red-yellow sun. This collision began killing off species of animals fast, only the more evolved surviving this darkening. Soon the planet began to heat up; temperatures raising the surviving animals began to push into underground caves and areas, hoping to survive.
Seven of planetary years passed, only leaving the strong on the planet. This chunk of the 5th planet had carried a radiation with it that had to began to cause malformations within the genetic coding of the survivors. Most of the originals had died off from this poison, but the offspring thrived. Most of the species had lost the need for four legs, pushing and leading to become bipeds.
After the sky cleared, new species began to populate the surface land. Tribes, towns, cities began to pop into existence as the two leggers became more intelligence. Thousands of years down the road, the species began to sail these massive seas. Crossing them and finding more species of other types. Reptilians inhabited the equator of the planet, farther to the north and south felines reigned supreme, farther to the north and south still, canids ruled with an iron fist. Pushing to the edges of polar caps bruins and equines reigned. These species interacted and began to file and fall threw wars over territories.
World powers formed, and wars raged. Late into the evolution of near planet space travel of these species, a scientist discovered a large object heading for a collision course with the water planet. In desperation they launched they're nuclear and ballistic payloads at the now discovered 'rouge' moon that had fallen from orbit of the large gas covered planet, now called Venom. Firing every thing they had, they were unable to stop the collision of smaller chunks falling onto the planet, entire species civilizations were nearly wiped of the planet, leaving survivors with out family or any one of the same species.
The major world powers had fallen to they're knees, politicians stealing what they could to survive now no longer able to keep control over their dynasties. The wars within the species began to fade and fall to a near quiet time, still a few small factions of feline and canid fought over territory. But in some places, around the world interspecies politics began to rise calling to the others to calm their guns and join together. Hundreds of years passed, and the powers began to join. Species after species began to collaborate and collect. The super power of a unified world had begun to twirl and spin.
Soon the scientific community had begun working on still faster and more efficient ways to cross they're small planetary system. Late one night, the first of a new generation of space travelers entered the capsule, one of each of the major species; feline, canid, ursine and equine traveled to the top of the magnosphere of the large blue planet. Starting the engines of this experimental power source, they launched this ship made of the rarest of metal on the planet titanium.
They watched in amazement as the gadgets recorded the speeds. Point 5 speed of light, point 7, point 9. Point .98 some thing unexpected began to shake at the small tin can of a ship. The four space travelers looked out the windows of the small cabin seen the star fields began to become distorted. Point 99 rolled up on the digital counter, balls of light and sparks began to fall over the nosecone of the ship. The counter rolled to one point zero, a burst of brilliant blue white light exploded in from of the small craft.
The four beings inside looked out the sides of this aluminum bucket seeing the star fields stretched to the aft of the ship. The ship shook violently, nearing the end of the short journey. The ships engines began to wind down, returning the star field back to its normal spotted white. The four of them had arrived at they're plotted quadrants. The 7th planet they called Fortuna, after the goddess of cold and ice.
Cheers and howls of triumph rang inside the small cabin, as a small communications light had begun to flash, but was temperarily ignored. They quickly answered the call, finding that the delay in the communications was exactly 6 minutes, but they had received the communications about 30 seconds after dropping from the extreme speed. The home base had sent the communications 1 minute after they had left orbit of they're home planet to make sure that the first message would arrive in timely manner. The words of the four species rang thaw the COM system "From land to land, from sea to shining sea; we have returned to the stars that once we came." But of course only part of the communications made it to the planet, sounding "From land, and from sea. We return to the stars, once we came." The received communication went down onto the record books as the most spiritual thing ever said.
Samples of the ice planet were taken and categorized, finding that small plants and animals had once lived on the planet, but long since died out. They left the planet returning to they're home planet greeted by the scientist that had sent time on they're magnificent trip. Describing it as being reborn, a dark tunnel and then begin thrust into the light.
The age of this time passed, pushing the technology forward. Soon the engines became more efficient. Soon off planet species began to come to Corneria, bringing with it hands of friendship and some fist of aggression. Space travel had become possible. The years trudged forward. The year 2780 XPT soon clocked around, bring the current end of the entra-planetary war with the one that had been exiled to the planet of Venom. Twenty years later, current day, a panther was born as the result of love between Halela and Camanade.
Ryan Dason was born and grew in the Capital city of the planet. Halon City, the epicenter of the Cornerian Enterprise. Age of four he was enrolled in the accelerated learning programs, and soon was on his way to being a great pilot. Approximately at the age of 10 he met a stalky built white fox by the name of Steven Haskin. They had become best friends, but when Ryan had to move off planet to train, the friendship had continued. Letters and vidmails had been exchanged, but some were long and few between. When Ryan had graduated from the CFA (Cornerian Flight Academy) he had gone back to the planet as a private. Making his way threw the ranks of private to Latinate, from captain to sergeant.
He found himself a free agent, still working for the government when needed under the rank of commander. But pretty much free from all other duties. He found himself searching for his lost friend. His mother and father had since past away, and he found himself completely alone. Every once and a while he found himself working, occasionally going to a small bar not to far from the Central Command building down town Halon. But, nothing. He never found his friend. Now at the age of twenty-five, he found himself looking for love. But, never really finding it with all the women that he dated. Months drudged on, and the day came that the Cornerian Military needed him while they were short handed.
Ryan sat in the in the meeting table in the main military building in the Cornerian home world, the center of the Cornerian Enterprise. General Pepper went over the patrol instructions, pointing out that only a few squads would been needed for this up coming weeks. Commander Dason of course, was elected to take a small squad to patrol the sector of stellar gas that lingered in the solar system near the home planet, known as Sector Y.
Preparing for the patrolling run, he began building a team to take on the patrol. Finding only what he needed, three deep space scanners each with they're own ship. Damain, a black spotted dalmation specialized in scanning for communication, while the equine Dilia and the bruin Jason specialized in scanning for scientific reasons. Two 'hotdog' fighters were hired, one a black wolf. By the name of Sable, she was an ace pilot that had been trained by the great star fighter Fox McCloud and her student Aaron McCabe as a communications expert.
Several days rolled by, the squad of six stayed on contact with one another exchanging vital information on where and what they were to be doing. Seven days after the initial order for the patrol, the panther found his squad preparing for space dock with the biggest of the space stations Onlux. Onlux was the last of its kind orbiting the planet of MacBeth, the fourth planed of the Lylat system. The large carrier that had brought them to the station was none other than the starship from the planet Earth.
Voyager had been lost in space, venturing back once they're technology offered a quick way to travel the near 50,000 light years. For weeks on end Voyager would come to the planet, being the only one allowed into the system from Earth, bringing imported items like foods and other supplies like linens and music. Cornerians, as a whole had welcomed them into they're system, quite by accident the languages that were spoken between the two species where nearly interchangeable, making it much easier on communications.
"This is Captain Kathrin Janway of the starship Voyager, requesting permitting to dock," the human said sitting in the captains chair in the helm.
An image appeared on the screen at the head of the room, "This is Commander Bill Grey. You have permission to dock at Section 5A. Welcome aboard," the canid said.
"Much appreciated," Katherine said. She looked up to the one that stood at the helm control, "Take us about Mister Paris."
"Ay, captain," the human man said.
Janway tapped the communicator on her chest, "Janway to patrol squad..."
Ryan's voice pinged over the COM link, "Ryan here, go ahead."
"We are preparing to dock, get your ships ready to transport them to the main fighter dock on the station."
"Understood," Ryan said picking up his helmet. Standing from the bed of the guest chambers on the star ship, we walked to the panel at the far end of the room. He looked at it, "Call the scanning crew."
Five small panes opened up on the screen, a face in each one, "Yes commander," they said.
"Time to get ready to transfer to the station. Get your gear and get to the launch bay."
"Ay, commander," they replied as they went blank. He walked to the door and it opened automatically. Walking down the halls, he was greeted with passing smiles. His slender swimmers body moving down the hallways he found his crew collecting around him. Each greeting him as they came to the group. Now, approaching the turbolift.
They piled into it and it speed off down the shoot to the launch bay. Stepping out into the bay and seeing the star field only interrupted by the cold of the planet surface below. "Alright guys, kick the tiers and light the fires. Its time to launch."
"Yes, commander," the voices rang.. Quickly the three of the scanning crew scampered to their Bulldog converted fighters. The two fighters confidently walked to their star fighters, which were of the Arwing type NTDfx-2D.
Ryan was the only one that took his time walking to his star fighter, one of the more advanced fighters armed with the latest short range scanners and the strongest weapons possible for this medium fighter known to the general public as the Alaunt. Climbing up a short ladder to jump into the cockpit, he looked across the bay seeing the heads of the other pilots readying their ship. One by one their engines light a small plasma spark emitting from behind the ships. He looked at the five faces that appeared on his right communications screen, "Scanning crew you ready?" hearing the confirmation he called, "Fighters ready?" also receiving a confirmation from them he looked at his own control panels, then removed the communicator from his chest bearing the insignia of the Earth Federation. "Commander to Janeway, requesting permission to launch."
"Permission granted," the captains voice tined threw the COM link, "Good journey, Commander Dason."
"Same to you Captain," he said the cockpit sliding shut. Looking back at the COM screen, "Scanning, Fighters, fallow me in that order," he said.
"Ay, commander," fallowed as he passed threw the shielding of the dock. Soon the squad of seven were plowing threw space at dock speed. The seven ships approached the ship for refueling and to dock. Pulling into the section 5 docks, they slid they're ships into separate slips.
The air equalized inside the docking bay and they're cockpits opened with a small hiss from the pressure difference. A voice echoed in the bay, "Commander, what can we do for you?"
Ryan claimed out of the cockpit and walked across the wing to the port. He looked up at the voice and squinted to read the name on the patch on the foxes chest, "Lutenate, I request these sex ships be fueled and ready to go in the next 30 minutes."
"Yes commander," the lutinate turned and shouted to his crewmen. He turned back to the Commander, "Welcome aboard."
"Thank you...?" he trailed off not knowing the name of the person that stood in front of him.
"Lutinate Cody, of the Anix strike force," he said, "But most of the clan calls me Code".
The panther pulled his head back at the word Anix, "Anix? what are you doing here refueling starships?" he said is crew now falling around him.
Cody smiled, "The main part of the clan is still out there, but has cut back on the amount of fuel usage. So the lot of us that had been grounded decided to look for another way to make some money. So we're here," he said motioning to the docking bay.
Damain spoke, his ascent thick from his part of the planet, "Did I hear the name 'Anix'?" he said.
"Yes," the fox said, "I guess you guys will enjoy your selves while we tend our duties."
"Thank you," the commander said with a salute. Turning to his crew, "Okey guys," he glanced up at Sable and Dalia, "and girls, your free to do what you with for 20 minutes. Don't go to far okey?"
"Yes sir," they barked in unison.
Ryan shook his head, "Where on a first name basis here. You guys can remain at ease and call me Ryan while you guys are under me. Okey?"
The crew looked at each other for a moment. "Yes sir," came sharply from the group with a bit of a laugh trailing it.
Ryan laughed, "Okey you guys. Go get yourself some food, be back here in 20 minutes." The six of them scampered away, the two fighters racing each other to the lift. "Kids..." he said walking to the lift with the other three.
"So," Dalia said, "Commander... err, Ryan, what's your story?"
"Yeah, where you from?" Jason said interesting in what was about to become a conversation.
Ryan looked down at the floor panels as they walked to the lift, "Well, lets see... my parents had me enrolled into the accelerated learning programs at the academy when I was ten. Got threw it with out a scratch, and now I'm here."
Damain pulled his spotted head back, "Well, that's short and sweet," he said with a bit of lightheartedness in it.
"Well what else is there for me to say, I haven't been in a major combat situation yet. The one battle that I was in above Katina a few years back got me the ability to be a freelance."
"So you've flown in at least 15 operations?" the Dalmatian asked.
"Well, no. I was on the 14th and I was shot down while defending the Katina base," Ryan said looking at the panel of the lift. The doors slid open and they stepped in, "Dinning level please," he said to the computer.
"So how did they let you go?" Jason asked.
"Well, after they couldn't repair my arm and had also pulled my file and found that my parents had only died a few days ago, they retro's a small mission when I was fresh out of the academy as the first mission that I had flown for the C.E."
"Couldn't?" Dilia said.
He held up his right arm, "This is a clone. It works like the first one, but some times it stops working completely."
"What do you mean 'work completely'?" Jason said.
"Well to make the arm as strong as it was to start with, they had to use an alloy base skeletal structure. In turn they had to deaden the nerves around the joints and in between the bones in the forearm," he said tracing his fingers threw his short black fur. "So if I hit it just right, it goes numb. But I had gotten a gift from a friend back in the academy. This bangle was sent to me from the home world and arrived about two years earlier," he said. The ding of the lift opened the doors exposing the crowds of furred bodies walking in almost robotic form.
Making their way threw the crowds, he continued, "The nerve endings that cause my arm to go numb are right under this bangle," he said toughing the bottom of his wrist on top of the tight silver-gold twisted snake bangle.
Dilia giggled gently, "A girlfriend?" receiving an elbow in the side from Jason.
The panther shook his head, "Nope, just a good friend."
Dilia smiled at the answer then looked up at the wall lined with food venders. "Well then where should we eat?"
Jason chimed in, "I hear the fish is killer out here."
"Sure," Damain said, "Side with the cat why don't you," he said jokingly.
The panther looked up and scooped out a small, rather disserted restaurant at the far end of the floor, "How about that place, kind of looks dead."
Jason looked up, "Yuck, human food."
"What a cub," Damain said. "What you don't like new food, or would you rather eat the same old boring filets of fish?"
Ryan's mind was already locked onto the restaurant, "Well its settled, lets go," he said cutting a path threw the crowds. The group of three fallowed him on the path sliding between every one.
Soon after practically being trampled, they arrived at the opening in the wall. "How many?" the human asked.
"Four," Dilia said smiling.
"This way please," the man said walking to one of the booths near the middle of the medium sized restaurant. "What could I get you guys to drink?" he said handing out the menus.
The Dalmatians eyes scanned the 'drink' items, "What's this Coke here?"
"Its a soft drink, imported from Earth," he said. "It was just delivered about ten minutes ago. They come in polymer bottles."
Ryan razed an eye brow, "I guess ill take one of those for now," the other three shrugging they're shoulders, and agreeing to the same. The waiter walked threw the swinging doors. Hearing the clang of the metal kitchen doors, "Well, what looks good on this menu?" He said running his eyes over it.
Being raised in a Cornerian environment, the traditional food came from the ground. Plants, grains and berries where the primary diets, supplemented with fish and other unsanctioned animals, like crabs and clams. Finally the Dalmatian spoke up, "Well I guess ill have this 'Beef' stew, looks good enough."
The equine looked puzzled, "Well, I guess ill take the salad."
Jason looked up from the menu, "Typical..." he said receiving a gentle elbow in the side from Dilia.
Ryan looked at the menu, "Lets see..." he said looking at the menu. An item caught his eye, "Clam Chowder, I wonder if that's any think like the clam soup that I could get back on Corneria?"
The Dalmatian looked over at the panther staring at the menu, "Where at?"
"There's a small bar that I go to once and a while, just on the outskirts of Halon," he said. "Its called The Spot."
"The Spot?" Dilia said. "Isn't that a non-gender non-grauta night club?"
The panther looked up, "Don't know, never had the urge to ask," he said. "Why do you ask?"
Dilia's white ears began to redden, "My mistake."
Ryan shook his head thinking to himself, 'Is that place really one of those types of bars... if it is I really never noticed. "To tell the truth, who some one loves is they're own business. I don't take it upon myself to make any judgments," he said aloud. "But, it is quite obvious that you two are a 'item'," he said raising an eyebrow to Jason.
Jason's eyes widened, "What? How could you tell?"
The Dalmatian spoke up, "Well the way that you guys are always near each other, and how you joke and goof off with each other kind of makes it a little obvious."
The two just looked at each other, "Well I guess you got us," Dilia said.
Jason spoke up, "Why the long face?" near laughing.
"Why you.." she said grabbing at his chest.
Right about this time the waiter came back to the table and sat the four bottles of brown liquid on the table, "Well what could I get you guys?"
The orders were placed and soon the food was delivered to the table. They looked at the food that was pretty much alien to them but they began to eat. Realizing that the food wasn't half bad, they quickly ate. Ryan glanced back down at his COMpad on the underside of the bangle, "Well, we better get going."
The four of them slid out from the booth and walked to the front counter where the waiter was sitting on a stool reading an old Cornerian book 'The Age of Times'. The man stood quickly at the sound of Ryan clearing his thoughts. "How can I help you?"
"How much do we owe you?" the Dalmatian said. Just from the look of him he wasn't dripping with money, but obviously not scraping by on the fur of his knuckles.
Ryan stepped forward, "Ill take this one," he said looking at the green eyes of the Dalmatian. "I'm the one that drug you all the way out here, at least I could do is feed you." The Dalmatian put his money fold back into the back pocket of his pants. "How much?"
"Thirty credits even," the human said.
Ryan pulled out his credits card pressed with his name, "You guys look a little dead around here."
"No one around here really like this type of food," the man said, "we never really got the chance to advertise because we came here with such little money."
"Who's we?" the Dalmatian said.
"Well, me and my wife Heather," the man said sliding the card under the scanner. "How much would you like to leave as a tip?" the man asked.
The panther looked at the man for a moment. "One Hundred Fifty credits."
"What?" the other three gasp along side the man.
"As long as you put it toward advertising this place," Ryan said.
"Yes sir," he said, pushing on the screen. "Thank you so very much!"
He smiled, "No problem," he said turning and beginning to walk away, the group still stunned stuttered in they're tailing of him for a moment.
The Dalmatian caught up with him, "I didn't know that you were that generous. Paying for our meal then giving your money away."
The panther laughed, "What, did you think that I was scraping along, barely making enough to live on, let alone give it away?"
"Well, yes. Like the rest of us," Dilia said with a hand around her burly mate.
"I just do this now for some thing to do," he said looking at the group walking along side him. "My parents left me quite a little fortune for me when they died. They didn't tell me that they had been making stalk buys in my name. Then what ever they didn't share amongst they're friends, they rolled it over onto me."
Jason looked at him with a crooked eye, "How much?" Receiving another gouge in the side.
"Wouldn't want to tell you, you guys would fall on your faces," he said continuing walking.
The three of them stopped a second and looked at each other. "How much would that be?" the burly bear asked as they stepped onto the lift.
Once the doors closed, Ryan looked at the three of them, "If you really wish to know, 50 million credits."
They're jaws just about hit the floor, "Fifty million?"
The Dalmatian put his hand on his snout, "I knew I should have asked for more money for this assignment."
The panther began to laugh, "I was going to share the wealth. On top of what the government was going to pay you, I was going to give each of you 25 thousand right out of my own pocket."
The Dalmatian backed up against the wall, "Excuse me while I take my foot out of my mouth."
The lift made its way back down to the dock. The doors opened and the four of them could hear the hysterical laughter coming from Sable standing in front of the old beaten up Arwing, "Hey! what kept ya!" she yelled across the dock.
The panther leaned into the group, "Don't tell these two about what I've told you... Okey?" They nodded in response. Ryan looked up at the wolf making its way towards them, "Are we late?"
"By thirty seconds," came from the young grey wolf standing in front of the battered Arwing.
Sable gave Aaron a cold look then turned back to Ryan, "Are we ready to go?"
"You bet." the commander said, "every one, gear up and lets get this thing over with."
"Yes sir," the five voices yelled in unison, breaking from were they stood. "Are you ready to be in space alone on your start fighters for the next 74 hours?"
"We guess sir," the voices answered.
Ryan turned to the Anix pilot dragging a bundle of cables away from his Alaunt fighter. He walked over to the canid stopping to hold out the credits scanner, "How much do we owe you, Code?"
"The fuel was paid in full by the government, so what ever you want to give my crew would be appreciated."
The panther slid the card under the scanner, "250 sound good?" The canids eyes grew wide, "I thought so," he said with a smile walking away toward his star fighter. Once on the port, he jumped onto the wing and stepped into the cockpit. He waved to the still stunned Code. He just simply smiled and sat down. Strapping on his helmet and preparing the engines to take the stress of a space jump.
Soon the crew was launched into space gliding and slowly making they're way to a safe jump distance from the space station. The back wolfs voice came over the COM system, "Jump engines at max, preparing to jump." The count down began to scroll along the side of the COM screen as she counted down. At the count of one, the ship lurched hard the Gravity Defuser powering up to its maximum power. Throwing them into hyperspace. "T-45 seconds until we have to leave jump space."
The counter ticked the seconds away, the two star fighters dancing and play fighting as they swirled around the open whole in space, dancing around the many pieces of debris that was lodged in the space between space. The ship lurched hard as the engines began to wind down. Once again the black vulpine voice pried over the com system, "Back to normal space, sir."
Ryan shook his head and looked back to the COM screen, "Yeah," he paused, "I forgot how much hyperspace made me dizzy."
"Me an' you both commander," Dilia said.
"What you guys say 'bout getting this job done?" Ryan said, his ship beginning to penetrate the green dust of the cloud. "Set up and take my wings. Scanning pattern Phi-3," he said punching at the control panel starting the tractor beams. The two fighters took point in a standard wing patter while the tractor beams locked onto the converted bulldog fighters. The engines of his ship wined a bit as the power was passed into the systems from the joint fighters. "The power flux is at .2, this mission is a go," he said. The two bulldog fighters fired they're port side thrusters beginning there orbit around the central ship. Aaron's Arwing swooped and took up tail position, making sure the scanning cluster was well guarded.
The hours drudged on as the scanning information pumped into the computer on their respectable storage devices. Taraquads of information streaming over the screen. All appearing normal, the scanning cluster gave a small aft burst to get them moving forward a bit faster. "Sir, exactly what are we going out here?" Aarons voice said after the first 12 hours of silence.
The panther shuffled threw the small briefcase that was at his side, "There was some unusual power readings coming from out this way. So, the Enterprise decided to pay this trip out to me."
"Unusual?" Dilia said, "What type of unusual did they have in mind?"
The panther thumbed threw the mission manual, "I think they said it was some sort of fluctuation in the polarity."
The ursine spoke, "I did pick up some energy back ground flux a while ago, but it didn't appear to strong so I hadn't said any thing about it."
"Do you have a mark number?" Ryan said.
"I think it was around 1219." The panther unbuckled the harness from his waste and shoulders. Gripping the manual in his teeth, he grabbed a hold on the armrest and forced his body up and over his head into the second seat of the fighter, "Nice moves there Ryan."
The panther rapped his tail round the harness and pulled himself down, "Searching time mark :1219." He said, the screen passed miles and miles of white screen smudges with black showing the band readings. "The mark is actually back at 1200 solid, you guys tell me what you think."
Dilia spoke up first after looking at the spikes and the smudges for about 3 minutes, "Well the pulse is streaming over most of the bands accept for the ultraviolet and the gamma. I'm setting my scanners to see if the pulse comes again, the Master Alarm will flash if it picks it up again."
Ryan remained in the second seat, looking over the readings, his fingers dancing over the panels. "Jason, could I get you to switch to your radiation scanners, there seems to be some thing in the ions themselves. Dilia, turn on your vid-scanner with the nebula filter."
"Switching over," Jason said, the hum on the inside of his cockpit changing slightly.
Dilia's voice called out, "What the?"
The panthers face snapped to the main screen in front of him, showing her scanner view. In the center of her line of sight there was some thing floating silently in space, "Sable, pick up your scanning and check it out."
"Ay, commander," she said, her voice sounding a bit deeper.
Ryan's rounded ears twitched, "Sable, are you reading any extra cabin pressure?"
She looked at her COM screen, "I turn my cabin pressure up a bit when ever I'm in space like this. Gives me that little extra edge that we star fighters need."
"Check it out would ya?" the panther asked again. Her ship fired its main engine gaining speed, and fell out of its formation.
The fog of the nebula was too think to see where she had gone, but the scanners we picking up her Arwing. "I found it," Sables voice finally said, slightly staticed by the clouds interference.
The panther pulled himself back into the front seat in the same way he had move from the front to the back, "Dilia and Jason, give me helm control of your ships. Lets go check this thing out, without breaking formation."
"Ay, commander," their voices said in unison. The control panel in Ryan's ship flashed to green, the computer mapping out the thrust of each of the star fighters to give them perfect sync.
The panther took the control stick in his hand, "Here we go," he said the three ships engines fired and moved them forward, using his own thrusters at three times power to maneuver the ships still linked with the tractor beam. "Dilia, what frequency are you scanning at?"
"I'm using the nebula scanner at 2.93," she said.
The master alarm began to flash on the control panel, this time the pulse was much stronger, nearing the 100 fold. "What the..." Sables voice said, then the communication fizzled out into background static.
"Sable?" Dilia said
"That's it, breaking scanning formation and returning pilot control," the commander said switching off the tractor beams causing the two ships to jar a bit, "Every one form on my wings and fallow me." The ships formed up on the commanders wings and fallowed him into the dust where the object was, "Dilia could you get a reading on how big that thing was?"
"My best guess would be about 15 sm in diameter, and about 14 sm tall," she said her eyes flickering with the information passing over her screens.
The panthers ears perked up and he began to see a shadow in the green glowing dust, "What is it?" he said quietly. Floating still closer to it, the could see the shadow of Sables Arwing in an orbit around the object. "Okey every one fall out and stay back, surround this thing just in case we need to destroy it," he said firing his engines getting closer to the big shadow. He made a quick pass around it, nothing like he'd ever seen before. He swung down over the vulpine Arwing, "Sable are you there?" he said, getting no answer in return. "Sable? are you there?" he said once again only getting a small moan out of her.
He swooped down close to the ship and used his tractor beam to lock onto the ship, "Sable are you awake?" No answer. A flash of red caught his attention. "Its a beacon," he said to himself. He thought to himself silently, 'but why would the beacon only become active after it was found?' He looked at the flashing light again. He pulled his head back in realization, "Oh shit!" he said loudly.
"What, what is it commander," Dilia said.
"Every one get out of here now, its a trap!" he shouted at the COM screen. Almost immediately as the words ran from his mouth, a small circular panel opened in the top of it a communications dish pushed out of it and spun open. "Every one out of here NOW!" he yelled again, seeing the other ships turn and hightail it out of there.
"Commander what about you?"
"Ill be fine, but could you get me a time measurement between the energy pulses?"
Jason looked over his screen, "Its just about one hour, Why?"
"Ah shit," Ryan said spinning his ship around towing the disabled Arwing behind him. "Aaron get on jamming that things transmission. Hell, just figure out what and where its sending, the jam it!"
The little wolf scrambled over his control panels, "I don't understand the language but I looks like a distress call or some sort of signal."
"Are you jamming it?" the panther barked.
"Yeah, I left a small trans-beacon by it. It wasn't able to transmit even before it tried to."
"Every one need to get out of here as fast as they can with out using the jump engines," Ryan said, quickly laying hard on the trust. "This thing is going to detonate in about 15 minutes and we are a good 20 at max thrust." The panther scrambled over the control panel, the master alarm flashing again. "Every one shields up!" he yelled turning his own on. "Are you guys still scanning?"
"Scanners are still running, and we're self storing," Jason said, his ship speeding up and head of Ryan's.
Aarons ship swooped down and glided next to his teachers, "Sable are you there?" Nothing more than a moan came from this ship. "Commander, if you don't hurry it up your not going to make it."
The panther sneered, "I don't want to use the grappling cables, ill tear her ship to shreds!" the panther shouted.
"Their is a grappler port on the back side of the ship," Aaron said, tapping the control panel. He guided his ship around using his wing to spinning Sables ship in the tractor beam. "See?"
"Releasing tow cable," he said the cable and clamp making perfect contact with the grappler port. "Now lets get the hell out of here!" he said, their engines firing in unison forcing them to move faster. With a glance down at the clock on the screen seeing the 10 minute barrier click by. "Maximum impulse," he said leaning on the thrust.
The ship began to shake and rock side to side due to the added weight of the arwing. Stars were soon becoming visible, the stress level on the tow cable was not maxed, his impulse engines now beginning to over heat, "Come on baby, hold together..." he said gritting his teeth. The green fog began to part as the two minute counter past by. The violent shaking of the ship stopped and the stress on the cable dropped nearly all the way down. He glanced up to see Aarons star fighter still tagging along side of him, "Hit your double impulse!" the panther said shoving the second paddle down to the control panel, seeing the Arwing engines flare up.
"Thirty seconds," Dilia shouted over the COM system.
Ryan's scanners pick them up still moving but engines were off and facing the wrong way. They could see the massive green dust could still filling most of their field of vision. Ryan's ship made an about face, seeing the arwing still dangling behind him. "Ten seconds!" the lupine voice called over the COM system. As the time ran down the ships still glided at there maximum speed without using the jump engines. Now able to see the entirety of the dust cloud, a small pin spot of light began to glow.
"Every one shields up and max, and deploy the armor," Ryan said. The armor had been a retrofit from a set of technologies that Voyager had given the Cornerian military. As fast as the armor had deployed, the ship began to rock back and for with a very powerful particle wind. The panther reached for the harness and strapped himself in. The light began to grow within the dust cloud, expanding on its omnipoint. Soon the ship rocked and lurched hard with the strong winds slamming and throwing the ship wildly side to side. As quickly as the explosion had started, it ended. Ryan's eyes snapped open to see the deadness of space. Nothing not even a small blip on the scanners. He looked at the green nebulous cloud, still there in its entirety.
Commander Ryan spoke, panting slightly from tensing his knuckles, "Is every one all right?" One by one the rest of the crew sounded off. Still panting, "Dilia, set up the distress beacon. We ain't going to make it back to the space station with a dead ship with us."
"Distress beacon is deployed," she said hearing a pop from the under side of the ship.
Floating dead in space, the silence between the crew, they floated still moving in the last direction their engines had pushed them. Soon a flash of light came from a ship exiting a jump, "This is Voyager, I understand you guys need al lift?" the voice of Kathrin came over the COM system.
"Am I ever glad to see you," the panther said, "We have one ship down, the pilot could possible be injured. The rest are disabled, engines are dead. Send out a grappling ship to pick us up."
"Yes commander," the Kathrin's voice said, the screen going blank. Slowly but surly he could feel his body beginning to fade out of consciousness. His ship had taken the brunt of the explosion. He reached up and felt the top of his helmet, cracks spider webbed over it, and a flat spot where his head had slammed into the side of the cabin. He could feel some thing warm running down the side of his face, he reached to touch it and passed out.
"Commander," Dilia said, not getting a response. "Commander!" she said loudly. The recovery ships quickly arrived using a tractor beam to pull the ships to the docking bay. Several people stood in the docking bay waiting for the ships to touch down to get the injured pilots to the med bay.
The sound of a familiar voice passed threw the panthers ears, like a voice from in the past. A hand landed on his forehead and pulled one of his eyes open. "His pulps are responding equally again so he should be around shortly," the voice said. "He took quite a hit there."
The light passed over his other eye. His body now beginning to wake but his mind still unconscious. Another voice spoke, "Will he be alright?" the feminine voice asked.
The white hand landed on the pantheran forehead again an pulled up his eyelid, this time the light managed to awaken the sleeping panther. His eyes batted a bit after the light disappeared. His mind awoke to the sound of a voice, "What happened to him any how?"
The doctor began to ramble on about the technical names for being knocked out with a slight concussion. A moan came from the black mound of fur in the medical bed, "Where am I?" a small voice asked. Not getting a response, he tried again, "Where am I?" this time catching the attention of the white figure in his site.
"Just like I said, any moment," the doctor said stepping over to the edge of the bed looking down into the blurry vision of Ryan.
Ryan's registered the movement but was not able to focus on what it was, "Where am I?" he asked again.
A hand fell on the black furred chest, "Your in the Halon Medical facility, you were in an accident."
"Accident, what accident?" a week voice said coming from the panthers mouth.
"He doesn't remember?" a young voice asked.
"Its too soon to tell if he will have any long term memory damage, but it would be common for this type of injury."
The white face appeared in Ryan's blurred vision once again. Using all the energy he could muster he forced his eyes to focus on the face. He suddenly recognized the male face that stood over him, "Steven?" he asked.
A response came after a moment of silence, "Yes, its me Ryan," the doctor said touching the black fur of the panthers forehead. "Its been a long time old friend."
"Like wise..." Ryan said , his neck relaxing once again and falling back into the pillow, reentering the state of sleep.
Steven looked back up at the crowd of five standing at the foot of the bed, "And its that easy. He lost an awful lot of blood due to the fact that Voyager doesn't carry Cornerian blood in stock, and they were not able to replicate any plasma. So most of his muscles are very week from the lack of oxygen," Steven continued, "He should be good as new soon as that bag of fluid gets into his system."
Dilia stepped around the end of the bed, "How do you know the commander?"
"Commander, he's a commander now?" the white fox said, "Last time I talked to him he was just finishing his last year in the academy."
Jason repeated the question, "How do you know him?"
A voice did not answer, the white hand picked up the hand of the unconscious panther and held it allowing the light to reflect from the bangle. "This is how I know him."
Damain looked at the doctor, "Your the one that gave that to him?" he said raising an eye brow.
"It was a show of good friendship. See the two snakes rapped and intertwined with each other infinitely. That was the way our friendship was. But, after he had gotten out of the academy we lost touch," Steven paused and layed the unconcious panthers hand back down to his side, "I had even heird a private detective to try and find him, but it was like he didnt want to be found."
The black wolf stepped into the converstaion, "Had you two ever been an item?" She recieved a quick jab in the side from Aaron.
The white face smiles, "No, we had never gotten 'that' close. But if he hadnt disapeard, who knows," Steven looked at the chart and clampted it to the foot of the bed. "But thats the past. How about we leave him alone to rest for a while. He looks like hes been through a lot today." He usherd them ouf of the room closing the door behind them. He turned to look at the black face, totaly relxed and more or less content. A tear began to fill his eye, stepping closer to the bed. He leaned down and grasp the limp body in his arms fealing his friends body limp and nearly lifless. A single tear dripped from his nose and fell onto the black furred chest, "I finaly found you."
Dalia and the rest of the crew sat in a small waiting room at the far end of the hall, waiting to hear any thing from the doctors that passed by frequently. They all sat silently, as if waitig for some one else to break the silence. Finaly, "Dalia, i saw you trying to analise the date from earlyer, did you find any thing?" Jason said.
Dalia pulled out the notebook computer from the briefcase that sat next to her chair, "Well i had started trarring into the data, but there was just so much of it. What with use scanning the full spectrum for any thing that might come up." Dalia looked a the set of data passing over the screen in real time.
"Did you notice that shimmer in the visual spectrem?" Damain said, "It looked like there was some thing there."
Dalia looked at the screen and pounded at the keys zooming into the area where the shimmer had occurred, "Looks like there was a miliflux within that spectrum. Any thing could have caused that, a shift in the solar winds. even the echo of the engines could have caused it."
"But do you recognize the pattern?" the spotted dog said.
Dalia looked at the run of data. Then again, then once more, looking at the wave patters, "They're grouped in prime numbers," she said amazed.
"That thing was put there for us to find. That thing was put there by some one to draw them in and then destroy them." Jason said. "But why?"
Aaron looked at the screen and watched the patters flyby again. "Dilia, could you run a filter over this data?"
"It looks kind of like audio," he said. "Take the images and smash them all down into one line and run it threw an audio decoder."
"How did you?" Dalia said.
"He higherd me as a COM expert remember."
Dalia began to run the audio threw the decoder. They listen in amazement, hearing voice in the static. "It ran threw a universal translator and it only picked out a few words.. In a time line they say, 'beacon... download... pulse... self-destruct'."
"Down load? Down load what?" Jason said looking over at the black wolf that clutched her head.
"I know what it said," Sable said her head still pounding.
"What?" Aaron said.
"I don't know how but I know what it said." She pushed the long back hair from her face, "It said that 'the beacon was to attract a space faring civilization. once they got close enough to the beacon it would download a chunk of data into the mind that was the closest. The pulse was just a way to catch the attention of a far off world. The machine was rigged to self-destruct once the download was complete."
The five others stood silent they're jaws hanging down at the sound of Sables voice, "What was that chunk of data?" Dalia asked.
She shook her head, "I don't know." She picked up the bag of ice and laid it on her forehead, leaning her head back in the seat.
"It seems a little weird that what ever it was had information stored in it then it self destructs when some one comes near it."
Silence fell over them again. Dilia skilled hands dancing over the keys on the keyboard. The rest of the crew sat back down and settled in for the long wait for word on their commander. They sat and waited for what seemed like an eternity. Soon a few of them fell asleep. Dalia's hands continued to pound away at the keys of the computer. Jason had fallen asleep sitting next to her. Aaron fell asleep laying against the sleeping Sable. The spotted dog sat, not quite asleep, but on the verge of being. The evening trudged of. Even Dalia feeling the night catching up with her. She closed the notebook and dropped it back in the suitcase, leaned her head down on Jason's wide shoulder, and fell asleep.
The panthers body shivered a bit under the thin hospital blankets. Steven, which had been off duty, had sat in vidule for his long lost friend waiting to see if there was any change in Ryan's situation, ears perked at the sound of the restless body. The snow white fox stood and walked to the linen closed that stood fastened to the corner wall. Spreading it over the shivering body, he touched the soft black fur on Ryan's forehead. "Its been so long."
The panthers body, began to stop its shivering, warming under the weight of the blankets. Ryan's arms started motioning to the air, searching for some thing to clutch close to his body. Steven remembered back before, the panther had every once and a while mentioned his collection of stuffed animals. The fox turned to the table next to the bed covered in flowers. He walked up to it and picked up the stuffed cheetah that had a red ribbon tied around its neck, a white carnation tied to the side of its head.
Lifting up the blankets and pushing the plushy cheetah under the blankets, once the slender panther body brushed against the fake fur, his arms quickly rapped around the stuffed animal, clutching it close to his body. Slightly giggling, the fox backed down into the chair near the head of the bed. The panther head involuntarily began to nuzzle against the fake fur of the cheetah, storing and returning his own body heat. For several minutes the panther body remained motionless.
Ryan's eyes began to flutter, his mind returning to awareness. His eyes opened to see the yellow fur of the cheetah plushy. He picked up his head and moved it back, "Well, where did you come from?" he said weakly.
"One of your crew had left it for you," Stevens voice said gently. "How you feeling?"
The panther took a deep breath and let it leak threw his black leathery nose, "Like I've been hit by a bus," he said lifting his hand to feel the top of his head.
Steven took the bangled hand and gently sat it on the stitches, "Your head slammed around so much in that cockpit you broke your helmet and it gouge into your scalp."
The panther looked at the white presents, letting his eyes focus, "Its been a long time Steven."
The fox smiled, "I know it has."
The panthers arm rested on the top of his head. The black furred hand reached up pulling the white body down to latch in into a friendly embrace. "I've been looking for so long."
The white head rubbed into the side of the panthers head almost nuzzling. The white head pulled back, their snouts not more than inches apart. The panthers eyes closed for a moment, then he could feel the gentle pressure and tough pushing his mouth open. Their tongues dance together in the long kiss. The panthers eyes shot open realizing that it was the fox locked in the kiss with him. He pulled his head back into the pillow. Steven let go of the embrace and stepped back, "I-I'm sorry, I didn't mean to..."
The panther laid there confused by the surprise kiss. Not sure what to say. "I- I don't know what to say."
"Its my fault, I shouldn't have."
The panthers head rolled over to the side facing the fox stepping backwards, thinking to himself, 'Maybe this is the reason why I've never survive a love affair. Maybe I've been looking in the wrong place for it.' The panthers body began to grow weary again, slowly beginning to fade back to sleep, "Don't worry about it," he said with a slight smile on his face, "I must admit your good at what you do." The panthers eyes fell closed and fell back into the deep sleep.
Steven sat down pulling his knees and resting his head on them. Thinking to himself, 'Why did I do that? I knew I had that attraction to him all the way back when we were in Halon, but things are different now.' His minds wandered for a moment, 'Maybe some thing will be different now. But how?' He let his left foot to the floor and continued to sit and wait for the panther to reawake, slowly falling into a sleep himself. Soon the fox found himself falling into the dream world. Silence fell over the room.
Hours rolled by, the group in the waiting room had fallen asleep for about 5 hours ago waiting to hear any word about their fallen commander. Dalia's head began to stir, the sunlight falling threw the eastern window. A beep came from the briefcase that she had slid the computer into. Waking up fast now, her eyes opened at the sound. Pulling the computer out of the bad, she opened it silencing the beep. The computer began to speak, but she paused the computer functions. Pulling a set of headphones out of the bag and plugging them in, she reached to her equine ears and dropped them in to her ear canal. She clipped a small mic to her flight jacket and resumed the computer process. "Information extrapolated has shown that audio was not the only thing being transmitted."
"Video?" she said, "Show it to me." The video began to run, a dark shadow surrounded by a white light. It floated back and forth on the screen as it was a head, "Computer, can you boost the resolution any I don't see any thing?"
"Resolution is at max, allowing for signal distortion. Gamma and contrast adjusted for minimum and maximum show no new results."
"That's strange," she said feeling the burly bear next to her begin to stir. "Is there any thing else?"
"The calculated position of the out going main dish transmission was headed on a trajectory beyond the rim. It had no real destination. But, I was able to translate most of the audio," the computer explained, "The languages were actually interlaced with each other. Like what ever talking was talking to a universal translator."
"Why the long face?" the lupine voice spoke, "Did you find some thing?"
Pulling the headphones off and unplugging them, she had the computer run the sequence again. "It found that there was more languages there than just one. Like it was speaking in a thousand tongues."
The bear raised and eyebrow, "So could you pull up one that we could understand?"
The equine fingers buzzed across the keys again, "Computer play audio EarthPrime and Cornerian on a lace track."
A beep came from the computer as the audio began to play, "Greetings who ever has found this transmission. I am the last of a dying race. The probe that you have found contains information that has been lost in the millions of years of our evolution. The information contained in the center neural net will be downloaded into a living being when it comes into a 50 sm radius of the capsule, so hopefully you get this message before you get that close.
"This information that will be downloaded, contains information on how to read, speak, write and compose in our primary language so that you may be able t decode any further artifacts that may pass your way. After this download is complete, you will have until the next power flux to leave the immediate area because the pod is set to self destruct so that the information storage units will not be use to further the technology of your race. There for the detonation will be eminent.
"The communications dish will appear immediately after the information is moved from the storage units, sending its last coordinates to the factions of my race that has moved on. They did not want this information to get out to the younger races, so please do what you can to block the transmission. Good luck, and good journey," the message faded out into static then clicked off.
Dalia and Jason's mouths hung open at the sound of the long speech. They're heads turned to face each other then looked over at the still sleeping Ace pilot and her student huddled together. Dalia spoke first, "Do you thing that she has all that information?"
"I guess its possible. She did say that the only thing that hurt was her head. But he was checked out by the scrubs around here. All her scans came out with only a bit of swelling in the back of her head."
The equine looked at the computer again, "Did the scanners pick up the last pulse of energy before the detonation?"
"Unable to comply, the message was replayed again at the second to last pulse," the computer said rather drown out.
Jason stood up, "Well pack that thing away until we get a chance to talk to the commander, we'll see what he has to say about it." The bear stood up and stomached the kinks out of his back from sleeping sitting up, "What do you say about going to get some coffee?"
Dalia put the computer back into the soft canvas briefcase and picked it up, "The good stuff right, not that cheep imitation stuff that Corneria try's to produce."
The lupine laughed quietly, "The good old Earth Stuff," he said beginning to walk.
Dalia stayed at his side, walking with her head on his shoulder and hand around his waste, "I guess I could get use to this public show of affection," she said running her fingers threw her tail to straiten the feet of tangled hair. The 'clip clop' of her hooved feet echoed threw the hall as they rounded the bend in the hall, causing Sable to begin to wake.
Sable woke with a bit of a grunt, also waking the sleeping Aaron huddled against her. Aarons hand rand down the front of her chest, with a jump and a start the two of them flew to the opposite ends of the couch, "I- I am so sorry Sable, I didn't mean to!" Aaron exclaimed.
Damain practically fell on the floor at the sound of the shooting voice, "What's going on?!" he said sharply.
"I swear Sable, I didn't mean to!" the young voice said again.
Sables heart was beating hard in her chest, "What the hell where you thinking?"
Aaron looked down at his hands, "Well, normally what ever I sleep on I normally give it a rub as I wake up. But I swear I didn't realize it was you!"
Damains head turned and looked sharply at the young grey wolf, "What?!"
The black wolf held her hands out in front of her trying to quiet the shouting wolf, "Its okey, its okey. It just surprised me a little," she said settling down into her seat.
Damain laughed a bit as he stood up and stretched, "So how'd she feel?"
"What!" Aaron shouted.
Sable reached forward at the vulpine face holding his muzzle shut, "Keep quiet, there are sick people trying to sleep."
Just about this time the white fox came walking around the edge of the wall into the waiting area, "What's going on here? Did I miss some thing?
The Dalmatian answered with a smile on his face, "Aaron was feeling up his teacher in his sleep."
The fox laughed, "What ever kinks you guys are into is fine by me, just not in public."
Sables wolven ears began to reddened as she slinked down into the seat, "I..."
The silver wolf still tried to stay as far away from her as possible without leaving the couch, "Its not like that at all..."
A white hand fell on the back of the silver wolfs head, "Its okey, I had a crush on some one before too." Aarons head slinked down into his chest.
The Dalmatian stretched again, "So is there any change in the Commanders condition?"
"Not really. During the night he took two full bags of fluids and one full bag of blood. He did wake in the middle of the night though," the fox looked down at the charts, "While he was awake we trailed a few words and I checked to see if his pulps were working equally. Which they were."
"You stayed with him the whole night? Don't you have other patients?" Aaron said.
The fox shook his head, "I had the night off after midnight so I stayed in there. He's the only panther we've had in here since the bombing," he said closing the chart, "So we want to see that he gets back on his feet so every one else will see that they will get equal and fair treatment here."
Sable stood up fully recovered from the sharp awakening, "You guy seen a drop in the panther population in the patients?"
"Well they're going to the other hospital at the other end of the town because most of the injured from the bombing were brought here. I guess the a little afraid of retaliation," the fox looked up. "How about us going to get some coffee in the cafeteria?"
The silver wolf finally stood up, "Sounds good, I could use one of those things that the humans make."
"That would be a Double-Moca-no cream-no fat late," the black wolf said.
"Yeah, what she said," Aaron said. The group walked down the hallway and around the bend to the elevator.
Down to the first floor, they exited and walked to the cafeteria finding the couple sitting at a table near the front of the room. They placed their orders and sat down at the same table. Almost immediately the doctor was asked questions about the state of they're commander, "So doc, how's the cat," Jason said.
Steven answered the mug at his lips, "Well he's doing much better, but I'm afraid that his physiology is slightly thrown off by being in space so often." He sipped at his mug, "Generally pantherans are a bit fast to recover from a wound, but he didn't receive the right medication immediately fallowing his extraction. His mind slides in and out a bit. But, I guess that could be considered normal."
Dalia looked puzzled, "Normal? How?"
The white head shook slightly, "Well, generally a living carbon being will slide into a state of suspended animation when the body begins to loose mass amounts of fluid."
Aaron spoke up, "Now how about so us simpletons can understand?"
Jason jumped in, "Basically his in a sleep that was caused by his blood loss," the bear paused, "So what is there to do for him?"
Steven was putting a bit of sweetener in is cup, "Well, nothing really. Just have to wait until his OX level comes up and the fluid levels off."
"Kind of like a combustion engine," Aaron chimed in smiling.
An eyebrow from the fox raised, "Kind of, but a little less explosive." The group quieted for a moment while they sipped on their coffee. After a good ten, fifteen minutes a beep erupted from a small pack on the bet on the fox, "Well, it looks like this guys waking up," he said.
Dalia all but sprung from the table, "Well what are we doing here?" The group quickly stood up, cups flying into a trashcan. They walked hurriedly down the hall way to the elevator. Dalia barley resisting the urge to run because of her physiology. The floor numbers whisked by, and a ding came as the doors open on the 14th floor. The group hurriedly walked around the bend and back to the room where the panther had spent the night.
Reaching the door, the doctor peered in threw the horizontal wired class window seeing the panther standing next to the bed using the IV pole to hold him up. The doctor concerned, opened the door, "What are you doing up Ryan?"
A nurse appeared from the bathroom, "Doctor, you finally got here. This guy is insisting that he make it to the bathroom on his own."
Ryan weakly snapped, "I said I need to use the bath room, Not a bed pan," he said scooting his feet across the floor holding onto the wheeled rod.
"You know Commander, she was only doing her job," Aaron chimed.
The panthers weak looking eyes peered at the young wolf, not speaking. He continued to scoot his feet across the floor, soon arriving at the door way. The nurse began closing the door behind them, "What do you think your doing?"
The nurse spoke dryly, "I am sorry, but it is law that I have to been in here with you in your weakened state. What would happen if you passed out and clubbed your self on the bowl?"
The panther sneered at the words, waving his hand at the rabbit, "Fine, just no wandering eyes. Okey?" The nurse nodded and closed the door.
The doctor walked to the foot of the bed and pulled of the rhythms tape, "Well he's doing much better," he said pulling the rhythm tape strait, "Looks like his blood pleasures come up a bit and his OX levels are 75% normal." He looked up at the eyes that locked on him, all except one set. Sables eyes were looking else ware, down. "Is some thing wrong Sable? You haven't said to much today."
"What?" she said pulling her head back, "Oh, I'm fine. My head ache finally went away."
The doctor walked over to her and took her hand and checked her pulse, "Are you sure? You look like your cold."
"Na, I'm fine."
Dalia sat on the foot of the bed and picked up the stuffed cheetah, "Wonder how this got in here?" she said holding up to her. Steven remained silent, "Well its nice to know he likes it," she said with a bit of a smile on her face. "What do you think?" she said holding it tight to her and leaning forward letting the neckline of her shirt fall low.
Damain spoke first, "Very nice, but could you put those away, we have a young one among us," he said turning his head and locking his eyes on the silver grey wolf as he walked by him. "Plus, I think he will notice your sent when he gets back out here."
The sound of running water came from the bath room as Dalia stood, and to door opened, "See I told you I didn't need your help," the gruff voice of the panther slowly returning.
"And most certainly you did," she looked up from the panther and looked at the five standing in the room, "He did it all him self." The panthers ears throbbed from the embarrassment as the crowd around him cheered and clapped. Helping the still slightly week panther back in to the bed. A kiss on the cheek and she walked to the door, "Ill see you again later."
The panther waved with one motion at the bunny leaving the room. Scooting up to the pillows and raising the top end of the bed to sit up, "Well guy, how do I look?"
Damian laughed, "Like you've been hit by a bus."
"Funny, I was thinking more like a transport," the equine said.
"Or a star fighter," Ryan said, "So, how long have I been out?"
"Almost seven hours since the last time you woke up," Jason said, "At least that's what the doc says."
A moment of silence came from the snow fox, "That's right," he said holding his hand on the panthers forehead. "So, feeling better?"
"Much. I don't feel like I'm going to faint again," Ryan said. His eyes wandered down to the vulpine wrist, then looked at his own, "When did you get that?"
Steven looked at the bangle on his own wrist, "They came in a friendship set," he said sitting down on the side of the bed. The group now stood around the bed over looking every thing that happened, "So, maybe you could explain what this operation you had about five years ago was all about."
The fox picked up the chart and thumbed threw it, "Well it says here that you had a major operation, but under the description it says 'DELETED by the power of the Enterprise'."
The panthers eyes coursed around the crowd around him, "Well, long story. Last mission for the Enterprise as a Corporal, I kind of had an arm amputated. They cloaned one for me using titanium as a skeleton and grew me back over it."
Steven shook his head, "What? That's illegal, even for the military."
"Well they kind of felt sorry for me, being that my parents died in the same attack," the panther said tightening his false arm into a fist, "That's when I started wearing this thing."
The fox looked at the bangle against the black fur, "Well at least it served its purpose. So tell me, what where you doing all the way out there in Sector Y?"
"We would love to," Jason said, "but then we would have to kill you."
"Seriously guys, you can tell me," the fox said holding his hands out to his sides.
"Actually," the panther said, "he's telling the truth. If we did tell you, we would have to kill you, the files have been stamped and sealed with the Enterprise Gold security. Even if we wanted to read the initial report, we wouldn't be able to."
"Although," the black wolf said, "we can tell you what we were doing, not what we were doing."
"And that would be?"
"We were on a scanning mission," Damain said, "That's all we can say."
"Well then, I see that you guys have some stuff to talk about," Steven said standing from the bed, "Well then, I guess I would leave you alone for a while." He turned to Ryan, "If you need any thing just give that buzzer a squeeze." The feline nodded as the fox walked away and out of the room.
Ryan pushed himself up higher in the reclined bed, "So what did you guys find out about that data we collected?"
Dalia looked at the black wolf, "I'm not so sure we should talk about this at the moment."
"Why is that?" Sable snapped, "Is it about me?"
"Actually it is," Jason stated softly, "There was more than just energy burst out there. The wave patters indicated that it was trying to transmit some thing using some type of light pulse technology."
Dalia stepped forward and pulled out the computer from the canvas bag at her side and played the audio of the message. The confused panther shook his head slowly, "And this has do to how with Sable?"
"I was the once closest to the pod when it discharged."
"That would explain your head ache," Aaron said, "too much new information, too fast. Kind of like when your up studying all night. Then you go to class the next morning and you aren't able to concentrate."
"How did you arrive at that deduction?" Damain asked.
"I'm a communications expert, not an idiot. Plus its like the Earthers deflector dishes, too much power equals one burnt out piece of glass and metal."
"So what your saying is that I know how to read, write and speak they're language?" the wolf said, her voice slightly annoyed.
"Well, that's what the message says," Dalia said, "other wise we have no proof either way."
Ryan yawned tiredly, is tongue moving inside his mouth dryly, "Could some one get me a cup of water?" Almost immediately a paper cup was put in front of him by the young wolf. "Thank you," he said sipping from the cup. The water drizzled from the corners of his maw, the others just watching him. He tried a sip again and the water fell on his chest. He whined, "I cant swallow."
"Its a side affect of the fluids they pumped into you. It'll ware off in the next couple of hours," Jason said. "Same thing happened to me when I was in the academy football team when I nearly broke my neck."
"I hope it wares off faster than that. I'm starving," the panther said, his hand on his stomach.
The group sat and talked for the next couple of hours doctors and nurses walking in and out of the room constantly. The day came to an end and the snow fox insisted that the weakened panther had to stay in the hospital for observation for at least another two days.
Not able to argue his way, he agreed. The rest of the group, however, went across the street and set up in the hotel. The next morning it was decided among the group not to mention the fully decrypted message just yet, the call was made to the HQ the next morning by the Commander, "General Pepper, we have returned to the planet a bit early."
"On what grounds?" the blood hound growled.
"Multiple injuries and damages to our star fighters and scanning equipment, the latter being the least of the damage."
"Why was I not informed about this situation sooner?"
"I was unconscious," the panther said bluntly. "I have my crew working on decoding the transmissions that the pod had sending."
"Transmissions? What transmissions?" Pepper asked.
Dalia stepped into the frame, "General," she said, "our communications expert noticed irregularities in the energy flux. He mostly decoded it, but its still not ready to be sent to you guys at HQ."
"Let me talk to this COM Expert of yours," the General demanded.
Aaron stepped into the place where Dalia had stood, "Aaron here, sir," he said nervously.
"Little young aren't you?"
"Young but very capable, sir," he said in rebuttal.
"Well then, what are your findings?"
"Well," the nervous wolf said, "that the communications of the pod were from an alien race. What we have decoded so far is like nothing I've ever heard of before."
"How so?" Pepper asked.
"Well, I've ran it threw every translator I know of, and yet it hasn't come up with a single hit. All we've been able to make out are four or five words."
"And they are?"
"Beacon, download, pulse, self-destruct," the young wolf said.
The bloodhound looked out of the transmission pane at some one out of the camera range, "Well," he said gruffly, "as of now, I am officially seizing all information and data collected by you and your scanning crew Commander."
"What? you cant do that yet I still have the crew working on the decoding," the panther said.
"Commander Ryan Dason, you are here by ordered to produce ALL data storage units that are still usable over to the armed guards that will be arriving shortly."
"You cant do that, we don't have them all with us," Aaron said defending his Commander.
"How long will it take you to get the information and the storage devises pulled from the ships?" the General said in a gruff voice.
"Two days tops," the commander said.
"You have one day to produce all the information that you have. If we find that you have not done as so ordered, we will remove you of your title and strip you of your flight permit, is that clear commander?" the cold scowl of the blood hound came threw the COM screen and nearly pierced into the young wolfs head.
Ryan spoke up, "Ay, General Pepper. You will have in your possession all the materials that we have collected this time tomorrow."
"Good," Pepper said, "enjoy the rest of the day Commander."
The screen flipped off, Dalia all but jumped in front of her Commander, "He cant do that, that's private property."
"He can and just has," Damain said, "We were working for the Enterprise there for any data collected by us is rightfully theirs."
"You cant be serious," Dalia said forcefully.
"He's right, Hun," Jason said rubbing his wide jaw, "We have to get all the gear together and get it ready to send to them."
The panther stood up, still slow from the beating, "I have to figure a way out of here. We need to get to our ships."
Damain spoke up, "We cant take you out of here."
"But I can," the white fox said opening the door to his room, "I take it the communication didn't go too well."
"They're seizing all the data collected, including the storage devices," Dalia said in a distraught type of voice.
The fox paused for a moment, "Well that's not good," he looked at the panther sitting in the chair, "Guess we need to get you out of here."
The panther sat silent for a moment thinking hard about the current situation. "Some thing doesn't make since. When I mentioned the data that had been recovered, and Aaron said what you guys stumbled across the night before last but not what you had found yesterday morning, he reacted like he had the information before."
Aarons ears perked up, "Your right, his pause in his sentencing did make it seam like he wasn't telling you the whole truth. And the way he talked changed like he hadn't rehearsed for this little communication go in this direction."
Dalia put her hand on the panthers shoulder, "So, what are we going to do?"
Ryan sat still continuing to think, "Okey, this is what we need to do. Dalia, I want you to get a hold of Captain Thatcher on the lunar base and get him to transfer your five fighters there. Mention my name and he'll make sure it gets done. Damain, I need you to do a little shopping," he paused pulling the battered wallet from his inside chest pocket and handed the Dalmatian a credits card, "I need you to go down to the local computer parts store and buy a couple of computers."
"A couple?" the Dalmatian asked with amazement, "Why?"
"Where going to need some serious power to make mirror copies of that data that we captured while we where up there. Here are the types of storage devices that were on my ship," the panther scribbled out a set of words in the Cornerian text on a small piece of paper.
Damain all but yelled, "10 type NDT600 S-FT2? Do you know how much those are a piece?"
"They're about 1000 credits apiece," Ryan said standing up and walking to the bag on the table at the other end of the room. "Dalia, what type of storage do you have on your ships?"
She thought for a second, "6 type NDT200 S1, on each ship. Then the scanners themselves have two of the NDT600 S-FT2s." The Dalmatian mumbled to himself adding to the computer shopping list.
Sable had remained quiet for most of the day, but she spoke up, "3 type NDT200 S1 on each. The navigation systems have one of the same on each ship."
"Okey, what's left is mine. 6 Of the NDT600 S-FT1 and one of the NDT200 S2s. Any thing else?" Damain said looking of the list again.
"Yeah, make sure the computers have the AllFiber ports on the back of them. It'll make the transfers a little faster," Aaron said.
"You know this isn't going to be cheep," Damain laughed slightly.
Ryan's head looked over at the Dalmatian, "That credits card has six hundred thousand on it. It should cover it." Ryan could hear the jaws all but hit the floor as the words scampered from his mouth.
Steven, which had been standing quietly at the door spoke, "I knew you were well off but this takes the cake."
"Jason I need you to take this as fast as you can down to the Main Records Building as fast as you can and get inside and pull all the records you can on any thing that you can find with the missions name on it," the panther scribbled another note out a piece of paper and handed it to the heavy built lupine.
"Who's this Captain Sandra?" the bear asked.
"A girl I once went out with. Rescued her from having to file for bankruptcy. I think its time for me to pull in a favor," he said flipping threw the mission manual that had been supplied at the briefing. "Aaron, Steven, You two are coming with me."
The white fox pulled his head back, "What do you need me for?"
"I'm going to need your hacking experience to make the mirror copies of the storage devices."
Steven waved his hands backcrossed himself, "No way you black cat, I gave that up a long time ago."
"Gave up what?" Aaron said.
"This guy use to be a Mainframe hacker. He could make perfect carbon copies of any thing that was stored or transmitted across air, space or line," Ryan said
"I stopped doing that after the last time I got busted with a copying device on my person," Steven contested, "I..."
The panther cut him off, "With out you, this will go nowhere. I want to see the government pay for what they put us threw. And, if this is the only way to force them to change their ways, it'll have to be done." The panthers eyes locked on to the taller fox eyes.
The look of the blue of the panthers eyes gnawed away on the fox, "By the gods, I hate it when you look at me that way."
"It still works after all this time," the panther smirked. After a few more moments of the panther using the COM screen having his car meet them at the front door, he hopped up and walked threw the door the white fox and silver fox fallowing him.
Out to the front doors the red sportser waited with a person sitting in the driver seat. The frog climbed out and stood in front of the car holding out a small box. Ryan and the frog exchanged a few quick words and quickly swiped a card threw the little box and punched a few keys on it. The frog raised his cap and walked across the street and hailed a cab. "Who was that?" Steven asked dropping down into the passenger seat.
"Most of the time I do a lot of walking around and leave the car at home. So I gave the guys next door a credits scanner and tolled him that if I needed a lift he could come get me using my car," the panther said flopping down hard into the driver seat after Aaron crawled into the small back seat.
"You gave a copy of your keys to your car to a group of guys that live next door?" the fox said, "Are you nuts?"
"Its okey, they cant start it with out me calling it ahead of time," he paused in mid word as he heard the engine turn over, "Plus they get some money out of it."
"That's my little shadow, always figuring a way out to get a job done," the fox said as the cars two wheels screeched out on to the main roads.
"Car," Ryan said, "give me the map of the city." The central panel of the dash slid down showing a screen behind it. "Plot me the shortest rout home from here." The screen changed for a moment then redrew itself, showing that they would need to get onto the main motor way out of the city. "Its still before noon, the motor way is going to be crowded, is there another way to get there?"
Steven spoke up, "Do you always talk to your car when your driving it?"
"Its better than having to do it all manually," he paused for a moment the computer redrawing the map. "Aaron, under that back seat there's a computer folded up, I need you to hack the Enterprises main data stream."
"Are you sure you didn't hit your head harder than he thought?" the smart-alecky wolf said, "Commander, I'm good at hacking into communications but I've never tried doing it to the Enterprise. That's considered treason. I think they hang you for that."
The white fox chimed in, "Nope, you'll get the firing squad if they catch you."
Ryan looked over his shoulder for second and handed the wolf in the back the mission manual, "I need you to find all the information on the database referring to this mission, and any thing else that refers to a probe and sector Y."
"Ill see what I can do," the youngster said hammering away on the keyboard.
Steven looked at the driving panther, "You know I don't have the equipment to make the copies don't you. All that stuff got confiscated shortly after I sent that bangle to you."
The panther rubbed the metal piece around his wrist, "Sorry, I kind of lost track of you after got into the Enterprise. I can honestly say that I did try to find you. But every time I thought I had a solid lead, it would just end up with a dead end." The panther turned a corner rather fast tossing them a little but he continued," All the equipment that you will need will be at my house."
Steven could see the stress of the current situation beginning to take its tole on the Ryan. He took the panthers right hand loose from the steering wheel and clutched it tight in his white furred hand. "Calm down your going to give yourself a coronary."
The panther all but purred at his hand being massaged strongly by his childhood friend. Some of the stress slowly melted right out of the panthers system. Ryan spoke in a relaxed voice, "I have all the stuff we need back at my house. It should only be another ten minutes to get there." The panther turned his head to look over the seat, "How's it going back there?"
"I haven't seen this type of defense since the battle at Venom," the kit said, "There's massive amounts of fire walls and thing for me to have to go threw."
"Just keep trying. You'll find a way," Steven said.
Racing threw the last turn to Ryan's house, the two tires in the front screeched almost taking the corner too fast. The car came a lurch of a stop under the open overhand of the house. The three of them climbed out of the car and walked to the back door. Ryan slid the key into the lock and turned it. Walking into the house, Aaron flopped down on the couch and continued punching away at the keys. The two friends walked down the small hallway and into a bedroom. Walking to the closet, Ryan pulled out a Enterprise Dress uniform and pushed the rest of the closet contents to the side exposing a large mettle panel. He put his hand on the panel next to the door. The sound of retracing hydraulics rang in there ears, "I told you I would have you covered," Ryan said pulling the door the rest of the way open. The door had gone to a slim safe that had been built into the house.
"You've got to be kidding," the fox laughed at small space eyeing the contents, "Where did you get all this hacking equipment?"
The panther sat on the foot of the bed, "Most of them are prototypes of what's in use now. All of them work, just not efficiently as the 'consumer' models."
"Ryan, how did you get a hold on the prototypes? these things have to be worth a few million."
"The company that built them were mostly owned by my parents before they died. Since I was the only living family they had, most of every thing was left to me. Eventually I sold back the large chunk of the company. That's how I've been making a living for the past three years."
Steven had a few of the components in his hand as he sat down on the edge of the bed next to Ryan. He spoke softly but truthfully, "You do remember what happened the night before last, right?"
"To an extent yes. You kissed me," Ryan said coyly.
"As I said, I am sorry for that. I just got caught up in the moment. You know I would never had..." a black furred finger silenced the white maw.
"Its okey. I already know what your going to say, but it doesn't matter. We've found each other again, that's all that matters," Ryan said putting his arms around the white fox. Their arms were locked tight holding each other close in a loving embrace. A kiss on the cheek came from the white fox. Ryan just smiled and squeezed, a purr coming from he chest. Ryan's grip lighten and let loose, "I guess I could say I've always felt the same way. I just never thought about acting on it," the panther paused, "but for now we have a job to do," he said, licking the side of his friends muzzle.
"Right," the fox said picking up the components off the floor. Ryan stood and walked to the paper cluttered desk. Clearing it Steven dropped the mess of wires and components on the top, "So what do we have here?"
Pointing to the pieces the panther called out the names, "Pattern buffers, CC creators, index removers and hiding place for my fathers stash of that fire water from Earth."
"What? Where?" the fox said. The panther picked up a device that looked a bit like an old optical storage device, flipped open the front of it and pulled out the small glass flask. "Clever critter, your father."
"He always enjoyed a good glass of alcohol," the panther looking at the small flask. He unscrewed the top of it and gave it a sniff, then a swig.
"As your doctor I insist that you don't drink any more of that."
Ryan coughed and sputtered a bit from the fiery liquid flowing down his throat," Still good," he said his eyes watering slightly. "You want some?"
"No thanks," the fox said pushing it away, "I need a clear head to work with these devices." The fox sat down in front of the desk on a stool and began working to hook the parts together, "Exactly what am I doing again."
The panther flopped down on the bed holding the mission manual in his hand, "Take the Pattern buffer and hook it threw the CC creators, then the index removers and into the buffer repeater."
The wolf shook his head, "Tools?"
"Yellow tool box, second panel on the left of the closet," Ryan said starting to read the manual.
The fox stepped into the closet and pulled on the panel unable to open it. He glanced over at the panther reading then punched it. The panel fell loose and fell to the floor. He pulled the toolbox out and sat it on the floor, replacing the panel that had fallen. Sitting back down on the stool he opened the chest up and saw an electronics engineers 'dream come true'. Every screw driver and spar parts he could possible need, "I take it your father did some of the development himself?"
"Only the proprietary stuff," The panther said over the top of the manual.
A sharp yelp came from the other room and then a shout of victory, "YES, I'm in!" Aaron shouted scrambling into the room. "I've got access to the main data stream. Its risky, but I'm using Thacher's clearances."
"Thacher is only a captain, how did he get Gold clearance?" Ryan said looking at the rather excited wolf.
Aaron flopped down the bed showing him the computer screen, "Not for now he isn't," pointing to the read out.
"Lutinat General?" the panther said rubbing his forehead. "Are you crazy?"
"Its okey the profile is set on a timer. It'll revert back to normal in about 20 hours."
"And what if they find the change before then?" Steven said, working on the pile of parts in front of him
"I'm accessing the stream from 25 different locations. Don't think they will be finding us any time soon."
"You sneaky little devil," the panther said ruffling the fur on the young wolfs head. "Now what do they have listed on this mission marked 'Y'?"
The young wolf hammered on the keys for a moment, "Well, damn it!" he exclaimed. "Its all encrypted. But it looks old."
"Its probably and RACE Algorithm," Steven said sparks darting in front of him.
"Yeah, but that's an awful lot of possibilities to go threw one at a time," the wolf sat motionless looking at the screen for a moment, "But what if I..." he said trailing off, giving way to the sound of his fingers pounding away at the keys.
For at least an hour silence was the only sound in the room next to the small zaps of the small arch welder and the hammering of the fingers on the keyboard. Finally the panther sat up pulling the glasses from his face, "Listen to this guys," he said looking at the manual, "Information pending first contact situations will lead to a full evaluation of the performance to the outplayed as here in described: Ryan Dason, Jason Frax, Dalia White-Cloud, Aaron MacCabe and Damain Oondes."
"What about Sable?" the silver wolf said not looking up from the screen.
The panther continued, "Sable of the Hex-Wind clan will be evaluated on the grounds of her performance in retrieval of all data collected in all data storage devices, solid state memory and mathematical algorithms.' She works for the government?"
"No, she's been in the HexWinds for a long time," Aaron said.
"Pull up her personnel file and see what its got on it," Ryan said to the silver wolf.
"What's the name of that screen over there?" He said pointing.
"Screen 5," the panther replied.
Aaron punched a few keys on the board. The screen flashed on showing her file. Ryan rolled off the bed and walked to the screen, "Lutinate Commander Sable of the HexWinds clan," Ryan said scrolling the screen down, "Current situation deleted by the power of General Pepper."
The fox cussed at himself as he shocked himself with the small arch welder. His finger in his mouth, "Sounds like she's been placed."
"Placed? what do you mean," the young voice asked.
The panther pushed on the screen displaying all public records and looked for any files in the correctional systems, "Sable Hex-Wind, arrested on charges of willful and deliberate destruction of governmental transport, arrested on charges of willful and deliberate destruction of data storage and computer systems vital to the function of the Cornerian Enterprise. Mind wiped the 13 month of the year of 2815 XPT."
"She was mindwiped? What for?"
"Probably as punishment for destroying millions of credits worth of equipment," Steven said.
"No, she would have had done much worse that that to wipe her mind."
"What exactly does mind wipe mean any how," Aaron said, "Does it hurt?"
"Basically, they bring in a telepath and have them dive into the prisoners mind and find a point in their memory when they weren't bad, then every thing from that moment forward is blocked up by carefully placed neural inhibiters," Ryan explained, "It probably did hurt, but she wouldn't remember it."
"So she's not the person she says she is?" Aaron said with a slight feeling of disappointment in his stomach.
"Quite the opposite," he paused and looked at the screen showing her full past up to the mind wipe, "She was 22 before she was wiped. She was already an ace pilot and quite skilled in most every thing that she did, but when she was 21 her fiance was killed in the attack on Halon during the first battle against Andross."
The fox laughed slightly still tinkering with the metallic parts, "No wonder she 'went postal' as the Earthers would say."
"That's not funny," Aaron said. "So what does this have to do with any thing?"
"She could have been reprogrammed to be a well strained spy, very well trained. Her records show that she's been on several different covert missions but hasn't been any listed for about 7 years."
"She's been placed that long?"
"Couldn't say," the panther said, looking at the wolf on the bed, "That means that she was there for two years before you joined."
"Every one had said that she had been there for a lot longer than that," Aaron said pounding away at the keys again. "Wait a minute," he said pounding away at the keys again, "There's a lot more on record here about her. But its all encrypted. This one I don't think ill be able to crack."
"Well give it a shot," the panther said sitting back down on the bed, "any information about who we're dealing with will come in handy." The wolf nodded and continued pounding away on the keys.
After a few moments of silence, "Finally," the snow fox said, "The data packets are transferred. Now to plug them into a computer," he stood up and walked to the screen where the black wolfs mug shot still sat.
Reaching down he plugged the fiber optic cable into one socket, "Pattern buffer detected," the computer said. Plugging the other device into the second socket, the computers chirped, "Unable to mount second device, redundancy in information and table. Unable to Display.'
"Okey, we got the transfers down," Steven said, "Didn't think I would be able to do this type of stuff any more. Been to busy putting organics back to gather."
"Strangely, all the same, just a bit wetter," still reading the manual, "There is nothing else in here that catches my attention." A chime came from the communicator on the back of the panthers hand, "Commander Dason here, go ahead."
"Ryan, we've got the five of our ships towed to the lunar station," Dalia's voice said, "I've arranged for a transport for us to take up."
"Good, we'll meet you there in about an hour," the panther said looking at digital display on the underside of the bangle, "That leaves us 15 hours to make copies and pull the devices," Ryan looked up at the fox at the screen looking threw the file. "Dalia, what's the situation on Sable?"
"Why do you ask?" Dalia's tinny voice replied, "I sent her of a food run, she should be back shortly."
"Just checkin'." the pantheran voice said, "Commander out."
"See I told you she wasn't going to cause any problems," Aaron said looking up from the screen. "You can trust her."
A chime came again from the com-unit, "Commander here, what's up?"
"This is Damain," the voice replied, "I've got the computers and the storage devices. I'm on my way to the transit port. I should be there within the hour."
"Good job," Ryan said, "How much did you spend?"
"Just about four hundred thousand," he said with a bit of a pant, "He thought I was just plan crazy buying all this stuff."
"I bet you made his day," the fox said, "was it a private vendor?"
"Actually yes, he works for himself, but he went out immediately and purchased the parts from several different ware houses. Completely untraceable."
"Good thinking on your part there Damian," Aarons voice said allowed.
"Okey we'll see you at the port in about an hour," Ryan said, "Ryan out." The COM link silenced, "Okey guys time to go," Ryan jumped up from the bed, and stumbled a bit feeling a little light headed. He steadied himself and picked the clean and sharply pressed red Cornerian Dress uniform and walked into the adjacent bathroom to relieve himself and to change into the uniform. "Steven, my dads uniform is in the guest bedroom closet. It should fit you."
"I couldn't possibly wear your fathers uniform," the doctor rebutted, "It just wouldn't be right."
The black face peered around the doorframe, "If you want you can stay in those grungy things you've been wearing for the past three days."
The fox sniffed at himself, "I guess your right," leaving the computer parts laying on the table, he exited the room.
"Aaron, in the back of the closet I still have my old Private uniform. You could try it on," Ryan said, his voice echoing off the tiles of the bathroom.
Aaron walked to the closed and eyed the computer parts, "What the hell," where did you get all this stuff?"
"No time to explain now," Ryan's voice said sharply, "It should be toward left."
Aarons hand fumbled threw the clothes and found the dress bag in the far back. He unzipped it and looked at the green of the uniform, "Found it." Aaron bounded out of the closed and stood his back to the door way, stripping down his boxer shorts he pulled on the still pressed Private uniform, "Its a bit loose but it will do fine," he said tightening the belt around his waste.
The panther walked out of the bathroom looking over the uniformed wolf, "Didn't think it would be that stiff still. I wore that only about 4 times," he said with a giggle. The wolf sat the berrett style cap on his head. The panther laughed a bit as it slid down on his muzzle, "I knew I hand a big head but that's ridiculous," he said, tightening the buckle on the back of the hat.
Pulling on the little dress jacket the wolf smiled at his reflection in the mirror on the opposite wall, "I always wondered what I would look like in a uniform like this." He ran his hands down the front of the green jacked smoothing it down, "What are all these?" he asked pointing at the metals on his chest.
"Marksmanship, Ace Pilot, Computer Hardware and Software Design, and this one," he said pushing his finger into the wolfs chest, "is the Mettle of Valor."
"A Mettle of Valor? How did you get that at such a young age?"
"A fire ripped threw the academy," the panther said straitening the collar on his neck, "Some of my bunkmates were still inside. In violation of a direct order I went back into the burning building and guided most of them to safety, carrying two of the injured on my back."
"Wow," the wolf said looking up over his shoulder to the black panther face, "You did all that?"
"I am the youngest to get that mettle pinned to my chest," he said rolling his shoulders.
Stevens walked back in the room, "And believe me, when he got that pin, his parents made sure every one in Halon knew about it," the stately looking white fox wearing the dark blue uniform, "How do I look?" he said stepping in to the room and spinning like a model.
"Fabulous," the red uniformed panther said stepping up to his friend, "But there's a small problem," he said pointing to the foxes chest. "The name tag."
The fox looked down at the patch on his chest. He reached into his pocked and pulled out his medical ID and fastened it over the name take, "Problem Fixed," he said mocking a salute.
"Okey guys, grab your gear and get in the car," he said reaching for the reading glasses at the head of the bed and scrapping the piles of papers into a briefcase, "Time to get to that lunar base." The panther picked up a small metallic box out of the closet and swung the every metal door closed. He walked threw the house Steven and Aaron fallowing him. He walked out onto the car port and stepped around the back of the car, plugged in a cable that had been snapped to the spoiler and placed the metallic box in a whole in it.
Aaron called into the back seat still not use to the feel of the uniform and then the white fox flopped down in the seat, "What was that thing that you just put back there?" he said a questioned look across his face.
The panther slid into the drivers seat, handing the briefcase that he had to Aaron, "A cloaking device that fell off my old space fighter back when I was in the Core."
Aaron laughed, "Your kidding right?"
The panther did not answer as he started the engine of the car, the computers voice spoke, "New device found. Analysis: 15-6 Cloaking device module 2.2. Confirm device driver configuration." The panther reached up to the touch screen and taped the yellow box in the bottom right, "Driver configured. Engage?"
The panthers voice paused for a second, "Negative, keep it on idle until further notice," he said, the tiers screeching and he backed out of the parking spot. "I already told you that this was no ordinary car."
"Yeah, but I wasn't expecting it to be cloak compatible," Steven laughed.
"A car with a cloaking device," the wolf in the back seat shook his head, "what is it with you people. Cant you be happy when your car is seen?"
The car screeched around the bend, "Not if your going three times the speed limit."
"Your joking right?" the fox said buckling his seat belt.
"I don't joke when it comes to my cars," he said, "You know me better than that."
Steven muttered under his voice, "Multiples?"
The wolf in the back seat swallowed hard and reached for the seat belt. "By the gods, just let us get there on one piece."
The engine revved hard as the panthers foot pushed on the accelerator, the car whisking onto the motor way, "Good its still early, the roads are nearly empty." He glanced down to the touch panel, "Switch on the turbo injectors."
The computers voice rebutted, "This is a public road..."
The panthers voice cut it off, "Just do it."
"Compliance," the computer voice said. The panther let loose from the accelerator, the car lowering to the ground, "Hydraulics lock for performance, and turn radius has been expanded."
"Watch this," the panther said, his foot falling back down on the peddle. The car all but bucked under the pressure of the turbo injectors whining and pressing the fuel and air into the engine. The fox in the passenger seat looked at the engine readouts, in third gear they were moving at 250 km/m the engine pinning on the tachometer. The panther shifted the engine into the fourth gear, reaching speeds of 320 km/m.
The worried wolf looked over at the panther, "Are you sure you know what your doing?"
The panther laughed his head pushed back into the head rest has he pushed the car into fifth gear, revving the car up to the top speed of 389 km/m, "Computer engage the cloaking device," he said, receiving a compliance beep fro the computer, "Hope your wearing your seat belts, or the cloak wont get you."
"You'd have to be nuts not to be wearing one already," Aaron shouted from the back seat. The padded inside of the car began to ripping in affect showing the light from outside. Almost like water the cloak shield cover of the car. Aaron looked at his arms as they began to fade away, "This is too cool."
The panther, looked in the rear view mirror, "Close your eyes until the cloak is over your whole body," the panther said his head disappearing.
The fox and wolf both closed they're eyes tight, feeling the tingle of the cloak moving up their bodies. Aaron open his eyes to see the cab of the car, but translucent. Two clear, almost watery beings moved in the front seat, "Wicked," the wolf said looking at his transparent hands.
The car darted around the slow, almost stopped vehicles on the road. "We should be getting there in about 10 minutes," the panther said.
Stevens translucent face looked at the panthers, "Are you sure your able to keep this up?"
"Never felt better," he said, beating his translucent fist against his chest. "Although I am a bit hungry. Wonder what Sables getting for us?" the panther said, squeezing the car between two almost stationary cars. Driving high on the shoulder he passed a stopped patrol vehicle that had pulled a blue car over. The wind from the fast moving car caused the Officer to duck and shield himself from the flying dust and debris. The cab of the translucent car rang with laughter, the wolf and fox looking back to see the officer ducking in the shockwave. The car continued to speed down the motor way, passing cars as fast as they were spotted, zigzagging around the slow cars for about ten minutes.
The panther begin slowing the car down, "Computer disengage the turbo injector but leave the car in sports mode."
"Compliance," the computers voice said. The car instantaneously begin to slow down. The panthers hand had pulled the gears loose into neutral letting the car coast down to speed. Making a turn off, the slowed the car all the way down as he came to a corner and drove around it.
He pulled into a parking lot at an old abandoned restaurant. Pulling around back of the building and looking around. Seeing no one, "Computer disengage the cloaking device." The car and its contents faded back into vision, flowing back over the car. The tires screeched the panther mashing down on the peddle again, driving much slower on the surface streets, "So what do you guys think of my car now?"
Aaron pulled himself up between the front seats, "Can I have one?" he stated jokingly.
The fox remained silent. The car made a few more turns until the transit station was in view. Pulling into a parking spot, "Are you okey Steve?" the panther waved a hand in front of his friend.
"That's the last time I get into this car," he stated, opening the door, "your freaking' crazy!"
"Only when I have to be," the panther opened the door and looked down at the digital read out on the back of his wrist, "Just in time," he said helping the wolf out of the back seat. The three of them stood and straitened they're clothing before walking to the front door. Ryan pulled a coil of silver out of his pocked and tossed it to the young wolf, "Put this on your wrist."
"What for?" the silver ears focusing on the sound of the commanders voice.
"When you walk threw the mettle scanners, just show them the coil and they should let you threw it," the panther said striating the cap on his head.
"What ever you say Commander."
"Speaking of which, until we meet up with the rest of the crew, both of you will have to address me as Commander."
"Yes sir," the two voices snapped together.
Ryan, Steven and the young Aaron approached the doors shoulder to shoulder, their feet falling into sync with one another. Even though the young wolf was struggling to keep pace, he managed to stay along side the red uniformed black furred mass. "Get the door," the panther said out of the corner of his mouth. Aarons pace quickened up the stairs and pulled open the glass pained door, standing very still, saluting as Ryan and Steven past him. Walking threw the door and up to the first set of metal detectors, Ryan found the guard lounged back reading a newspaper.
The guard spoke lazily, "Step threw the scanner." Ryan cleared is throat, catching the guards attention. The guard dropped the paper and snapped into attention, the red uniform finally catching his eye, "Commander, so sorry I didn't know..."
The panther cut him off, "A soldier asleep at his post could kill a whole platoon, private."
"Sir, yes sir," the now nervous jackal, "It will never happen again."
"See to it that it doesn't," Ryan said stepping around the scanner.
"Sir," the jackal said, "You maybe a commander, but I cannot let you pass without going threw the scanners."
The panther walked back up to the guard, chest to chest with him, "Are you ordering me to step threw the scanner private?"
A moment of silence from the jackal, "Sir, I have been ordered by the General himself not to let any one pass with out being scanned."
The panther stared at him a moment longer, his uniformed chest still pressed against the guard. Ryan titled his head to the side, "Very well then." Ryan said stepping the scanner, "Its nice to finally see an officer on the civilian level have the power to order a Commander around." A sharp beep sounded as the pantherans body stepped threw. Ryan pulled his sleeve up showing the bangle, then waved his arm threw the scanner causing it to sound again.
"Your clear sir," the guard said, "You next Captain?"
"I prefer doctor," Steven said. He stepped threw the scanner and pulled his sleeve up showing the bangle.
The young wolf still stood at attention on the other side of the gate, waiting for the order to pick up the briefcases. "Private Dason, catch up!" the panther order. Instantly Aarons hands latched onto the handles of the briefcases and stepped threw the scanners, stopping only to show the twist of silver around his wrist.
The young wolf stepped up to Ryan, "Commander your briefcases, sir," Aaron said holding out the two briefcases.
Ryan and Steven reached for the briefcases when the sound of the guards voice caught there attention, "Is this private your son Commander Dason?"
The panther shook his head, "No, private. He is my god son. After his parents died, he took my name." The guard stood a split moment and then waved them on down the corridor. Surprising enough this section was relatively quiet. The group of three began to march down the hallway, the short legs of Aaron struggling to keep step. Rounding a corner into an adjacent hall way the panther stopped and looked around the corner to see if the guard had followed them, "The coast is clear," he said. "I must commend you Aaron, you handled your self quite well out there."
"Thanks commander," the young wolf said. "I don't know how I acted so promptly with the wrong name being called to me."
"It shows you that you can adapt quickly," Steven said, "Quick adaptation makes good for a great communications expert."
Ryan pulled the cap off his head, "From hear on in you guys can walk a little bit more casual," he said pulling off his dress jacket, "But you Aaron, will have to stay in full uniform," putting the cap and jacket under his arm.
"I understand," he said giving a slightly loose salute, "Private Dason, reporting for duty."
The panther began walking down the corridor, the farther they walked the more crowded it became. The group of three found themselves walking single file threw the crowds.
Dalia stood leaning against a pillar near a transit terminal, "Where are they?" she said a shooed hoof tapping the ground impatiently. "They said that they would be here in one hour," she looked down at the timer ticking away on the back of her wrist, "and that was nearly an hour ago." He thought she could hear some on calling her name but she did not look up. Again she heard her last name be called. She looked up seeing a red uniformed panther waiving threw the crowd. "Commander?"
"Pilot White-Cloud," the panther said approaching her. He leaned into her as he stood in front of her, "We seem to have stirred a bit of a problem, address me and Steven appropriately."
Her hooves clicked to gather, "Pilot Dalia White-Cloud reporting to duty."
"At ease, pilot," Steven said. The equine body relaxed, her arms folding behind her. "Where are the others?"
"I have not heard from Pilot Hex-Wind since she has been on ration detail, sir," she answered.
The panther rubbed his hand on his chin and looked at the white fox, "Doc, should we tell her about Sable?"
"Its your call, Commander."
"Tell me what about Sable," she said falling out of her sturdy stance.
Ryan snapped at her movement, "Stand at attention pilot. I did not give you permission to move."
"Sir, sorry sir," she said her body locking back into place. She muttered out threw her teeth, "Lighten up a bit," her eyes crossed down to the still at attention Aaron, "What's wrong with him?"
"Private Dason, Pilot White-Cloud, at ease," Ryan said, the young wolf sat down and slid the barrette off his head. "Dalia walk with me," he said motioning her and Stevens to fallow him to the panel glass that showed the launch field. Looking over his shoulders he spoke at a normal tone a voice, "We've run across some information about Sable. What do you know about her?"
"Noting much. I hadn't met her until you called us to do this mission," she said her eyes wandering. Ryan quickly reminded her to face eyes out." Why?"
"I noticed that she hadn't said to much for the past couple of days, so I decided to do some checking up on her," he paused to face Dalia still facing out over the launch area, "She's not who she says she is."
"About 12 years ago, Sable was arrested for destruction of Enterprise property after the death of her soon to be husband. Her punishment was a mind wipe," Steven said standing next to Ryan.
"Mind wiped? What did she destroy?" Dalia said.
"None of the paper work says, but we did a little more digging. We found that she had been placed several times over that nine years," the panther paused, "Five years ago was the last time she was placed."
"So what does this have to do with any thing?" Dalia paused, "You don't think that she's been reprogrammed as a spy do you?"
"We don't think so. Aaron says that the rest of the HexWinds insist that she had been part of the clan for 3 years before he had joined," Ryan said.
"But she arrived only a year ahead of Aaron," Steven said, finishing Ryan's sentence.
"So?" Dalia said raising her shoulders, "this doesn't prove any thing."
Ryan leaned forward his voice slightly quieter, "What if this mission has been in the works for the past five years? That would mean that the Enterprise sent use out there unknowing that our lives were in danger."
Dalia turned to face the uniformed panther, "You have no proof to prove this. Until you do, I don't want to hear any more about it."
A shout was heard from across the room, calling Dalia's name. Ryan turned, recognizing the voice as Jason. Fallowing close behind, Damain fallowed him. "Commander? is that you in there?" Jason asked.
"When I'm in uniform, please be a bit more official," Ryan said looking around. "Is that clear pilot?"
Jason's head pulled back, "Yes sir."
"What did Captain Thacher have to say?"
"She called your bluff. I didn't even make it into the building let alone get any information," the bear paused, looking over at Aaron sitting alone by a set of suitcases, "What's up with the kid? is he feeling okey?"
"Private Dason is fine. Go talk to him hell bring you up to speed," Ryan said. Turning to Damain, "Where are all the parts?"
"They are being loaded onto the transport that Dalia rented, sir," Damain said sharply. "Sir, have you heard from Sable at all. I have to admit, she's got me a little worried."
"That conversation is for another time," Ryan said.
Running foot steps round the corner, "I'm here," the familiar wolven voice said. "I've got these prepackaged things for every one, considering I have no idea what you would have wanted," she looked at the panther wearing the crisp uniform, "uh, sir, what's with the fancy duds?"
Ryan's eyes glared at her coldly, "Stand at attention pilot."
"What?" she said, a smile wincing on her face.
A soft whisper came from the young wolf sitting in the chairs next to her, "Play along. Too many watching eyes."
She looked down at the young wolf, then pulled herself into attention, "Sir, I'm sorry, sir."
"Apology noted," Ryan said, "Now that we are all here, what do you guys say about getting off this rock?"
"Ay, Sir," their voices rang in sync.
Dalia spoke up, "Sir, there is only enough room in the transport for three plus one pilot."
"Pilot HexWind your with Doctor and I," the panther said in a order issuing tone.
"Yes sir," the sable wolf said.
"Private Dason, report front and center," Ryan said loudly. Instantly the young wolf body flew out of the chair and came to a standing position in front of Ryan with a salute, "Private Dason, do you feel comfortable with the task of flying a D - 23 type transport shuttle?"
"Sir, I am comfortable piloting most if not all types of space shuttles and other wise sir," the stately wolf said. After a short silence the wolf spoke up again, "Sir, might I add, I have been trained to fly some of the enemy fighters as well."
"Private Dason, you are assigned to pilot the shuttle," the pantheran body turned to face Dalia, "Pilot White-Cloud, escort your pilot and passengers to the launch pad."
"Ay, Commander," she said with a salute. "Dason, Oondes, Frax, fallow me," she said starting to walk off. Aaron picked up the briefcases that sat at his sides and shuffled off behind the group walking to a ramp. Dalia turned her head and shouted back, "Your fighter is on pad 15A"
Ryan nodded in response, "Okey you two, lets move out."
Sables voice spoke as they moved threw the crowd, "Commander, I didn't get a chance to give any one their food."
"We'll get it to them when we dock with the space station," he said rounding the corner and walked up to a gate with the number 15A on it. Sliding his ID card threw the machine the rope fell loose and they walked up the ramp. Stepping outside, the panther pressed his hand against the fighters window, sliding open recognizing his hand. "Sable, I hate to ask you this. But would you feel comfortable sitting between his legs?"
Her head pulled back, "Sorry sir, I cant do that."
Steven spoke up, "I was afraid you would say that," he said giving her a slight elbow to the back.
"Well Doc it looks like you and me," Ryan motion for the fox to take the seat. "Sable you've got the navigator seat."
Sable jumped into the seat, "I hope you understand about this. I don't get between any ones legs with out dating them a few times."
The Steven laughed, sliding into the seat and fasting his harness, "So your one of the conservative types." Ryan's thin body slid into the sitting position, his shoulder blades pushing into the inner thigh of the fox, "Easy commander, you wouldn't want to hurt me."
The panther laughed claming the harness, "Hands clear?" He pushed a small red button on the control panel causing the hatch to slide shut. A chime came from the communicator, "Commander Dason here, go ahead."
"Private Dason, here. The shuttle is ready to lift off."
"Acknowledged," the panther said, "Tell every one to keep the COM systems active so we can talk among ourselves." Receiving a 'yes sir' from the rest of the crew, he reached up and flipped a small switch, "This is Commander Dason, requesting lift off on pads 14 and 15A, over."
"Tower to Commander Dason, you are clear for take off in 30 seconds."
"Copy that tower," the panther said looking at his watch. "Sable, hit that ignition switch up there, this ones melted." The engines started with a bit of a clunk, but at least they started. The count down reached zero and the shuttle begin to float. Ryan pushed gently forward as the fighter slowly leaned forward and began moving, "Aaron, plot me a fallow cores."
"Fallow cores plotted and transmitting it now," the young wolf said.
"Fallow cores received and engaged," sable said, the ship leaning off to the right lighting up with the transport.
"Didn't think I would be piloting a clunker like this," Aarons voice said.
A voice faded into the communications system, a pop, and the voice was gone, "Come again?" Ryan said.
"That wasn't any of us commander," Dalia said.
"Aaron, Damain over ride the communication encryption and patch a new one. We're being hacked," Ryan said. "Every one maintain radio silence until they have the problem fixed." The COM system faded into static as the blew sky of Corneria faded away leaving the endless blanket of stars. "Didn't think I would be getting into space quite so soon."
Stevens voice spoke with a tertian awe in it, "I almost forgot what its like out here." Ryan pulled off the tight fitting cap and let his head rest against the foxes stomach. He rubbed his forehead eyes closed. A white furred hand touched the tip of his ear and ran down to his head, rubbing it gently.
A purr quiet, almost silent begin to build in the panthers chest, "A guy could get use to this type of treatment," he said is eyes still closed tight. His eyes snapped open at the sound of Sable clearing her throat. He could plainly see the reflection of the wolf in the window of the cockpit, "Sorry Sable, I forgot you were up there."
She shook her head, "Don't mind me, I'm just the navigator," she smiled, "Plus I think you two make a cute couple."
Steven leaned forward to look at the panther face. Looking at each other for a second, "What?"
"You know, you have that whole Black and White thing going on," she said with a smile. "At the risk of sounding like a broken record, are you two an item?"
The panthers ears begin to throb in embarrassment, "I don't think so."
"At least not yet," she said.
"Speaking of 'items', have you ever been involved with any one?" the fox said looking up and over his shoulder.
"Who me?" she looked down at her hands for a moment, "Gee, its been so long ago I don't even remember his name."
"Remember, one night stands are not considered a couple," Steven said.
"We dated a few times, but it just seamed like he disappeared. Stopped calling and every thing."
"I know this is going to sound really weird Sable, but how old are you?" Ryan asked, looking at her reflection.
"How dare you ask a girls age," giving his reflection a wrist wave. "Actually I am 37 I think."
"You think?" Steven said.
"Well, I haven't celebrated one in quite a while."
A voice begin to push threw on the COM system. Popping to clarity, "Commander Dason do you read?"
"We got ya Damain. Who was that?" Ryan said.
"Some guy planet side was using an encryption of point-2 of what we were. It was nothing to worry about."
"He's right," Aarons voice spoke over the COM link, "It kind of sounded a bit like that otter in the control tower."
"Don't think so," Steven said, "his voice was a bit deeper. That guy that came on had a really tenor voice."
Ryan leaned his head back, pushing against his friends stomach, "Okey guys, maintain radio silence until we get called by the space station."
"Yes Commander," Aaron said. The COM channel when quiet then popped off.
"Are you feeling okey Ryan?" Steven said caressing the crown of his head.
"I'm just feeling a little tired," he said beginning to purr with the touch of his friend.
"You just rest, we'll take care of the flying," Steven said. The panthers eyes closed, and begin to drift off to sleep.
Ryan's mind was blank, traveling threw a state of sleep. A muffled voice made his ear twitch, but he did not wake. The voice was heard again, still not enough to stir the sleeping panther. A white furred hand landed on his shoulder and shook him gently, "Fighter pilot and transport unit, you are ordered to respond or be fired upon."
Ryan's eyes snapped open and looked at the communications panel. Pushing it to open the flashing channel, "Transport 15A and Space fighter here, over," Ryan said.
"Pilot, please explain your delay in response," the voice said.
Ryan's head turned franticly looking side to side trying to decide what to say, "We, um... We were set on a sub frequency, we could hear but weren't able to send."
A moment of silence came over the COM system, "Station to pilot, what is your requested destination?"
"Request docking in private sector 37B," Ryan said.
"Pilot, you are not cleared to dock in that area. That is strictly for private use only," the voice said gruffly.
"This is Commander Ryan Dason. I am the owner of that docking space," the pantherans voice forced.
"Commander, I apologies. I didn't know it was you.
"Are you going to clear us or what?" Ryan said agitatedly.
"You are clear to land. Set your flight path to 32point54-2 and set skew to point 4, over."
"Path noted," Sables voice said.
"Welcome to the station commander," the voice said then went silent.
Ryan looked down at the screen COM screen, "Aaron you heard the man."
The panther leaned back, not remembering that he was fastened to the fox, "This head rest sure is lump."
"Ill take that as a complement, commander," Steven said a small giggle in his voice.
Ryan all but flew out of his harness, "Steven, I forgot you were back there."
"Its alright, I'm a forgettable type of guy," Steven said swatting the panther lightly on the head.
The control stick jerked side to side as the ship began to maneuver itself rounder to dock. The shuttle craft was the first to pass threw the protective shielding of the docking bay. As the fighter passed threw the shield, Ryan's body shuttered a bit at the humming of the ship reacting to the energy barrier. The ship slid into the slip and latched into place. Ryan yawned and reached for the switch that controlled the hatch. He quickly unlatched his harness and jumped out of it onto the wing and walked to the short but sturdy jetty.
"Commander Dason," a voice called from across the room, "these other ships just arrived not more than thirty minutes ago under your order. Is that correct?"
"Yes it is," the panther said helping Steven out of the cockpit, "I take it your the Dock Manager."
"Yes sir, Dock Manager Turner Philips. What can we do for you today, sir?" the astute manned lion asked.
"I need every one out of this docking bay until I give the all clear," Ryan's voice rang.
"Sir, I cant do that. We have two more ships coming this docking station," Philips said harshly. "What are we suppose to do, turn them around and let them float in space until your done?"
The panther eyed the lion with a cold stare, "Those two slips over there aren't working properly."
"What are you talking about. They were just checked this morning, they're fine." the lion said turning back around.
"No there not," Ryan said growling a bit under his words.
The Dock Manager recoiled a bit, "I guess they're not." The lion turned to the crew that walked about the deck, "Every one, we need to clear this dock. Every one move to the next set of docs down the way, have all landing crafts land in different slips." Many voices rang threw out the dock, Dalia and Jason had already begun unloading the stacks of storage devices. "Is there any thing else you need sir?"
"Actually yes," the panther paused jumping off the dock jetty, "We could use some work clothes. A small, medium and a large should do it."
The lion looked up to the second level where a short stocky frog walked, "Fred, toss down three grease monkey suits. One of each size." With a loud plastic slap the three packages hit the floor. "Any thing else?"
"Yeah," the panther said now caring two briefcases, "you to leave with the rest of your crew." The lion loosely saluted and began to walk away, "And Turner, no one knows were here."
"Ay sir!" the lion said walking out of the large room.
"Okey guys, here's the game plan. Dalia, you help Steven here take the ships storage units out and make the copies. Aaron keep working on decrypting those data streams. Damain, get those new computers up and running, your on back up of Aaron. Sable get those storage units out of the ships," the panther said rather demandingly.
"Ay sir!" their voices rang in sequence.
"Dalia, where are those new computers?" Ryan said.
The loud clan of a mettle panel hitting the floor but the work continued. Quickly, Damain got the new computers up and running, handing one directly over to Steven to check the bit-sync of the new drives. Aaron sat on the docking bay floor, hammering away on the keys trying every thing possible to crack the encoded data. Damain sat next to the young wolf, himself hammering away on one of the new keys, fallowing the young wolfs every move threw the data stream. Ryan flopped down on a stool near by, setting Dalia's computer on the counter surface. The panthers eyes begin scanning over the millions of files firing threw the Cornerian Enterprise Network.
Hours passed, the first five hours drug out slowly. Sable was under one of the ships laying next to Steven working of pulling out on of the storage devices. She slid out from under it and sat up with a shiver, "I sure got cold all of a sudden."
Ryan's eyes caught a glimpse of her grasping herself and rubbing her shoulders, "Are you okey Sable?"
The black wolf shook her head, "I'm fine, just a little cold."
Steven draped Ryan's fathers dress jacket over her shoulders, "Have you eaten yet?"
"No, I guess I should though," she said standing up and waling over to a small bench. She shivered as she said down and began picking at one of the Rams. Ryan's wondering eyes looked at the shivering wolf for a moment, then looked back down at the task at hand. Soon, she was back putting her hands into the ships inner most workings.
The ninth hour rolled lingering on. Finally the silence was broken by a rather excited voice, "I'm in. I'm in!" Aaron shouted at the top of his lungs.
Ryan sprung from his stool and stood of there the young wolfs shoulder, "Good for you. Did you find any thing yet?"
"Not yet, I just have to apply the encryption and... "the young wolfs hands flew over the keys. "Bingo. Holy shit!"
"What? What is it?" Dalmains voice rang.
"Commander, are you sure you didn't give any information to Pepper?"
"I'm pretty sure, why?"
"They have all the same data that we do."
"What? No way!" Ryan said picking up Dalia's computer and looking over the screen. "There's an audio/video clip here," he said hitting a few keys, the message began to play. Steven stood over the panthers shoulder as the message played, then ended. "They knew. They knew all along!" Ryan said slamming his fist on the counter.
"Ryan what's wrong?" Stevens voice asked.
"They knew about the detonation. They knew about the message. They used us to download that damned information," the panther said looking over the screen.
"What download?" Stevens voice asked, nearly confused.
"When some one got too close to the pod in sector Y the pod would transmit a load of information to the nearest mind. That person in turn was able to read write and understand the alien language."
Steven looked over the screen with the streams of data zipping by, "You know, the original drives were only about one third full."
"My thoughts exactly," Aaron said. "We need to copy all this data from the DataStream onto each one of those drives. Then we need some one to hold onto them incase some thing happens."
"That's some good thinking," Dalmains voice said, "Sable, where are the HexWinds at the moment?"
"Last I knew they were on patrol on the other side of the planet, Why?"
"Perfect. They can deliver the drives to friends," Damain said to the panther.
"Good idea. Steven prepare the original drives to take the new packets. I have a message to record," Ryan said walking to a quiet corner of the room. After talking into the screen for a moment or two, he returned to the group, "Steven here's a file that needs to go with it," the panther pitched a small chip over to the white fox, "Just push it into the Aux port, when the green light shuts off its downloaded onto the drive."
"What ever you say Ryan," Steven replied.
Aarons hands continued to hammer over the keys, Damain along side him pulling up more and more reports of the information to be copied. He pulled up Sables records and begin to apply the decoder to it. A mess of date began to clutter the screen. He read quietly to himself, "Sable, currently placed in the HexWind clan as a mind wiped spy'. What the hell does that mean?"
Sables voice came from over his shoulder, "What's that you got there little one?"
Aaron tilted the screen down as he looked over his shoulder, franticly thinking of some thing to say besides the truth, "Its a chunk of data that slammed into my firewall. Some thing about a prisoner transfer from Fortuna to prison on Zones," he said nervously.
"That picture looked like me," she said.
"Naw, that guy was ugly as hell," he said pulling up the screen and pushing the escape key, "He look like he fell out of the ugly tree and hit every stick on the way down."
"Thanks for the complement," she said, pausing for a moment, "I think." She said walking back over to the ship where she had just been working.
A sigh of relief leaked from his lungs as a black hand fell on his shoulder, "What did you find out?" Ryan's voice said quietly.
"Well," Aaron said pulling up Sables medsheet again, "According to this, she's an undercover spy. What they do is mind wipe her. Then when its time for her to be pulled out of the situation, they have a telepath scan her and extract all the information. Then they stuff her in a hyperbolic chamber until they needed her. When they do, the thaw her out, mind wipe her and give the impression that she is what she is and stick her in a situation."
"They are illegally using mind wipe subjects as unwilling spies?" Ryan said raising an eyebrow.
"Sir I think this information should be copied as well."
"Steven?" Ryan's voice called
"Yeah!" Stevens voice called bouncing off a mettle panel.
"We found some more files that need to be copied to what ever you haven't retro'd the new files to so for."
"No problem," Steven said hitting his head on the metal panel. Cursing at the pain he stood up and looked at the computer screen in front of him. Pushing a few keys the information begin to pipe into the old drives. "Downloading it now!" he shouted rubbing the top of his head.
Ryan looked down at the counter of the underside of his wrist, "Okey people, put the peddle to the metal, we have forty minutes until we have to get off this hunk of metal."
"Yes sir," several voices answered.
Aaron stood up, holding the computer, "Sir, we may have a problem."
"What is it?"
"I just caught a data stream using the same encoding as the rest of the information. They're sending fighters to come get us," Aaron said rather uneasy.
"Your kidding right?"
"I wish I was look," Aaron said.
Instantly the lights dimmed and yellow beacon lights begin to cores around the room, "Attention all station hands, prepare for emergency fighter docking in Private Sector 37B..." the voice said repeating itself endlessly.
"Ah, shit," Ryan said standing up. "Every one get those drives on the transport NOW!" The crew began scampering about the dock floor pushing every thing they could pick up and throwing it into the shuttle.
A booming voice spoke as squadron of Arwings hovered outside the energy barrier, "Every one in bay 37B, cease and desist all activity and prepare to be placed under arrest." Seeing that this did not hinder the quickly moving furred bodies moving around the control deck, "If you do not comply, I have been otherwise to fire." Another fighter jet cut threw the squadron hovering out side the energy net, "What the?"
A hickish sounding voice rang over the loud speaker, "I under stand that you guys could use a little help," the voice said. "Have no fear, the HexWinds are here."
Immediately the arwings took off in pursuit. A fierce dog fight raged outside the station, between the Cornerian fighters and the free agent HexWinds. "Dalia, leave the old drives here, we'll have them come get them when they get a chance."
Aaron ran into the shuttle caring the three computers, "That voice that begin to break threw when we were on approach must have been the communications experts planet side trying to hack into the COM system," Aaron sat the computers in between the wall and the second row of seats, "I knew I should have set up a rotating algorithm for the encryption."
"That doesn't matter now," Ryan said, "We all have to use the shuttle to get down to the surface."
"There's not enough room for use to all sit," Dalia said strapping herself into the copilots seat.
"Aaron take the controls," Ryan said, the space station receiving a shot from the fire fight on the outside. The shot hit hard, shaking the station, causing the shuttle to slide across the bay. Ryan leaned out the cargo door, "Sable, Damain, Jason, Steven! Every one into the boat!" The three furred bodies huddled into the cargo room of the shuttle as Aaron fired up the engines. The shuttle made a mad dash threw the shielding and locked onto the planets surface, "Aaron, Jason, Sable. Strap yourselves in." the shuttle rocked hard to the side receiving blow from a laser.
Jason shouted over the sound of the ship creaking and popping under the fire, "Commander take my seat ill be fine."
"Take your seat soldier," Ryan ordered. "Steven, do you think you can hold on until we get planet side?"
The ship rocked hard under another direct hit, "Our shields are at 75% in the aft quadrant," Aarons voice rang.
"I think so Ryan," Steven said his voice beginning to crack under the pressure difference.
"Damain, sit on the floor and hold on tight as you can to the seat in front of you," Ryan ordered.
The ship rocked hard again, "Shields at 70%," Dalia's stressing voice yelled.
Aarons young voice shouted over the popping and hissing of sparks, "Commander, those fighters are spacers only, they cant fallow us into the atmosphere."
"Get us down there as fast as possible, pilot," Ryan said pulling the dress jacket on.
"Sir, when we land they are going to arrest us. Then what are we going to do?" Sables voice asked.
"Then well just have to go around the problem and strait to them."
"What was that?" Jason said, staring at the panther.
"I believe the commander just gave me an order to crash into the Enterprises HQ," Aaron said, his ears folded tight to the top of his head. "Entering Cornerian atmosphere in 30 seconds." The firing had stopped, Aarons arms struggled to pull the transport up to let it glide into its intended target. "Commander, what are the XY coordinates for the main building?"
"12-2 by 92-3," the panther said holding on to the pedestal of Sables seat.
"Every one hold on, impact in fifteen seconds," Aaron shouted.
"Stay alive men!" Ryan scouted over the sound of the engines whining
Aarons voice rang out with the sound of the count down, "Five seconds! May the gods help us!" Aaron shouted seeing the building growing quickly in the window. The shuttle craft slammed into the building causing Damian, Steven and Ryan to loose their grip on the seats. The bounced around the cabin coming to rest in a pile against the back wall.
The ship finally came to rest sitting inside the main hall of the capital building. Sparks hissed and popped from the control panels. A moan came from the pile of fur in the very back of the shuttle. Ryan found himself piled between a Dalmatian and his friend. Steven sat up shaking his head, "Ow," he said meagerly.
"Is every one all right?" Ryan said using Stevens stiff frame to pull himself up.
For a moment, silence. Then a young voice spoke, "That kind of hurt," Aaron said unbuckling his harness. "Sable, are you okey?"
"I'm fine," she said as the snaps of the belts came loose the helmet still fastened to her head, "I thought you were going to land it."
"He was commanded to crash. Sounds kind of funny doesn't it," the bruin sorely said the harness falling loose as he stood up.
Ryan stood next to Steven, "Every thing in one piece?"
Dalia looked down at her computer, smashed into several hundred pieces, "I wish captain" she said throwing it to the seat. "All that data."
Jason spoke up as he picked up one of the storage devices, "Well at least the drives survived."
"Damain get on the horn and tell the HexWinds to pick up those drives we left behind," Ryan said reaching for his briefcase. Opening it, he pulled away the false lining. Several hand weapons fell loose from the material, "I'm assuming every ones fired a weapon before."
Dalia picked up a few of the drives and the cords into a knot and hung them around her neck, "Are you kidding? We cant kill any one, we're in the Capital Building for the Gods sakes."
"These are concussion weapons. They knock you down and out, but they wont kill you," the panther said checking the carriage. "Every one take your pick."
Jason picked the weapon from Ryan's hand. Holding the gun in the palm his hand, "Its a little small isn't it?"
"Believe me, they give quite a punch," Steven said.
"Commander, message away," Damain said, sparks falling from the overhead display.
Ryan looked at the big bruin, "You carry as many of the drives as you can, Aaron get in that pilot seat and get this engine shut down before it blows."
"Ay, commander," the young wolf said jumping the back of the chair into the pilot seat.
Ryan leaned his head out the door, looking to see if any one was around. Silence, all except for the sound of the still humming engine. His head pulled back in, "Every one, ear pieces." The crew reached down to their communicators and pulled out the small clips, clipping it to one of their ears. Ryan's head leaned back out, hearing boot steps. His hand motion for two of the group to move to the near jetting corner to take a flanking position. Dalia and Damain moved as one as they passed the panther standing in the warped doorway.
The boots fell harder as they neared. The feline leaned back out, seeing the motion of the squad moving down the hall by the reflection in the shuttles window. One of the armored guards aimed his weapon at the cab, "Aaron, hit the deck!" he shouted, hearing a single shot. Aaron reached for the tilt control of the seat and fell back hard as the shot blasted threw the window. A squeal of pain rang from the young wolfs muzzle clutching his head, "How bad is it?"
"Steven leaned down over the in pained wolf, "He's okey, its just his ear." Steven looked at the young wolf, "Take this," he handed him one of the weapons he held. The wolf nodded.
The panther still leaning out the door motion to Dalia the signals for four guards caring rifles and six caring pistols. Dalia nodded in response. She leaned out slowly, her head shaped for looking around corners. She looked back at Damain kneeling behind her. She raised four of her fingers and motioned them low. Damain nodded. Dalia and Damain peered out around the corner keeping their hands tight against the wall firing. Return fire came, bouncing from the wall. Damain leaned out firing twice, each shot landing with precision.
Dalia leaned out around the corner seeing the limp body's laying in the hallway. She motion for the rest to fallow. Ryan pushed for Jason between Steven and Aaron, "Stay in the center." he whispered. Some thing out of the corner of Dalia's eye caught her attention. Her head turned as a shot bounced from the wall only inches above her head. Ryan fired his pistol, knocking down two of the armed guards. Aaron took a few shots, none of them making contact but offering good cover fire. Steven raised the gun and hesitated for a split second before firing. Pulling the trigger twice, the two remaining guards fell to the ground.
"Every one okey?" Steven asked meeting every one at the corner.
"Dalia, Damain. Check the hall and move to the end." Ryan commanded. As if joined at the hip they turned the corner and walked sliding along the wall. Dalia's head poked around the next corner, her hand motioning for the rest to fallow. She rounded the corner, Damain walking backwards watching he opposite end of the hall. Dalia leaned out, a shot fired missing her. Her hand leaned around the corner and fired knocking down one of the ten some guards.
Ryan and the rest reached up behind her, "How many?"
Damain held out the gun using it as a reflective surface, "I would say at least twenty." Damain shifted the gun looking down past the guards, "There's the Generals office."
"Jason, your weapon," Ryan called. The weapon was all but slammed into Ryan's hand. He pulled the carriage out and fumbled with a few buttons on it.
"What are you doing?" Dalia yelled firing around the corner again, fallowed by Damain firing.
Ryan slid the carriage back in, a high whine coming from it, "Making a flashbang," he said throwing it down the hall. One of the guards stepped out thinking that the weapon was thrown down as a surrender. His foot stopped the sliding gun. As he leaned down the pick it up, the flash blinded him and the rest of the squad. Dalia and Damain stepped out from around the corner, rapidly firing their guns. Aaron managed to knock one of the guards to the ground, with a bit of a cheer to himself.
Damain looked down the hall, hearing nothing. They moved as a group sliding against the walls, reaching the end of the hall that split into a 'T' the door displaying the Enterprises insignia. He reached for the knob... locked. "Shit, its locked."
Dalia looked over at her boyfriend, "Do you think you can take it down Jason?" she said looking rather flustered.
Jason remembered the time back when he was in the Academy's football type team when he practically took down the entire defense line on a single snap. His feet spread apart, dropping the drives next to the door as he lowered his head. He lunged forward driving all his body weight into the door. Nothing.
Sable stepped out from around the corner, "Here," she shouted pulling off the helmet. She slammed it down over the bears ears and gave it a good luck slap, "Hit it hard!"
The bruin backed back down his stance stronger than before. Slamming into the door, they flung open. Ryan stepped in to the room quickly shooting down the two guards down as he entered. Steven scrambled into the room pushing the gun against the chest of the bloodhound as he stood up from behind the desk, "Sit back down General."
Damain could hear the sound of metal boots slamming down the hall way fast, "They're coming!"
Jason finally stood up, slid back out the door and pulled the ten storage drive in with him. A shot fired high over his head.
Sable leaned out over the bruin firing. She reached for the young wolf running and sliding across polished floor of the hall way. A Shot. Struck her square in the side of the head spinning her around, "Sable!" Aaron yelled seeing her body hit the floor. He dove on top of her and drug her into the room.
Jason pushed the door shut, "Damn it the locks are broke!"
"Here," Dalia exclaimed tossing the poker from the fire place to him. He slid it threw the brass handles. Using every ounce of strength he could muster, his arms flexed bending the steel into a knot.
Steven knelt over the stricken black wolf. He looked at the wound on the side of her forehead seeing a piece of some thing metallic. His hand fell on the wolfs wrist searching, then finding a weakened pulse. "She's alive, barely."
The panther pushed the pistol into his belt, "Well General, we have some things to discus."
"Such as Commander?"
The panther reached down and slammed one of the drives on the desk, "This for instance."
"What is this, a storage module?"
"These are copies of the original drives that you requested," the panther said laying a sharp metal claw on it. "We know that you knew about the dangers of this mission."
"I knew nothing of the sort," the bloodhound snarled.
"Give it up General. We hacked the DataStream and got all the information. We know that you knew about the detonation." Ryan said.
Pepper stared at him a moment, "Yes, we knew. So what! there's nothing you can do about it."
"That's where your wrong general, there are the original drives out there some where, with both the original data that we collected, and copies of the data that we pulled from the network. They all have your encrypted signature on them."
"This is blackmail," Pepper howled.
Stevens voice raised above the rest, "Shit, I'm loosing her!"
"NO!" Aaron shouted. "Don't die!"
"General, we know about her. How many other mind wiped spies do you have out there?" Ryan said holding the but of the gun.
"Ryan could you speed up the negotiations a bit," Jason yelled his back holding against the door.
"Spies? what spies?"
Ryan drew the pistol, holding it point blank in the bloodhounds chest, "Damn it general, you know what I'm talking about."
"She was a mind wipe that went wrong. We've been placing her undercover with a new mind wipe on ever mission," the general said stepping back. "Why?"
"Ah shit!" Steven said now pumping on her chest and breathing down her snout. The limp body laid there, her chest compressing under the weight of the white fox pumping on here chest.
Aaron looked at the face, her tongue turning blue. In a fling of fury, he stood reached for the downed guard and stood, storming in a rage to the general, pressing the rifle into the generals side, "You son of a bitch, You killed her." The general recoiled under the sound of the enraged young voice. "I'm going to kill you right here, right now!"
Ryan stepped forward, standing behind the young wolf, "Aaron, you don't know what your doing."
"I am sick and tired of this guy using the government and its people as his own personal chest set," Aaron said tears streaming down his face. His finger tightened around that trigger.
"Aaron, you pull that trigger and none of us are going to get out of here," Ryan said, a hand on Aarons shoulder.
"You don't under stand, I loved her. Now she's dead," he looked back up at the general, "And your the cause of it!" he said jabbing the barrel into the generals ribs
Ryan's hand slid over the shoulder of the young wolf and down to the grip, "Aaron, calm down. If you pull that trigger, you will die in this building. She wouldn't have wanted that for you." Slowly the gun slid from its holding position in the gut of the general. The young wolf collapsed into the commander, forcing them both down to the ground. Dalia stepped in to hold up the weakened wolf.
"I've got a heart beat," Steven said leaning back from listening to the wounded wolf.
"General, my squad is leaving this building, alive," Ryan said picking up a sheet of the official headed paper. Scribbling some thing out on the paper, "Now if you agree to this, the information on those drives will remain intact and in the hands of our friends. And if you don't and none of use get out of this building alive, the information bearing your signature and the statement attached to it from me will be automatically decrypted and shipped directly to the News Network," the panther stopped and dotted the sentence hard.
Pepper looked down at the Pepper and sneered, "We don't intend on giving you any thing."
"You don't have a choice General," Ryan clawed at the desk, "either you sign the paper, or your chances of having military control again are very slim."
Pepper snatched the paper from the desk, reading it over quickly, "You want us to replace and repair all the damages done to all of your star craft and pay you two million credits each? Are you insane! I could never..."
The panther hit his breaking point drawing the pistol from his waste band, "Either you sign it, or you will loose all the power that you _soo _hard worked for." Ryan held up the plumed pen.
Reluctantly, Pepper took the pen and signed under the statement that was written, "You drive a hard bargain panther."
"I learned from the best," the panther pulled the paper out from under the pin and walked to the copier in the corner, "Here you go, general," the panther slammed the copy down on the desk, "This is going to the supreme justice so that he can enforce it. Now call off the guards." The General stood rigid in place. Ryan pushed his pistol harder into the sternum of the blood hound, "Call off the guards!"
Pepper sank down into the red leather chair and leaned down to the mic that sat on the desk, "All armed guards, holster you weapons. Repeat lower your guns." the voice boomed over the intercom.
The banging at the door stopped, the bruin body slid to the floor excused from holding the door shut. Steven still knelt over the downed wolf, "Ryan, if we don't get her to a hospital fast, we're going to loose her!"
The panther turned to the General, "We are leaving now, but this will not end here," Ryan said shaking the paper at the general, "This will insure it," he said picking up and piling the remaining drives on the desk. "Jason, open those doors."
"Ay, commander," he said pulling and destroying the handles of the door, pulling them open he could see the large mass of furs wearing the armored suits, "Commander, the coast is clear."
"No funny business, General" panther said backing up. Steven picked up the wounded wolf carrying her in his arms. Dalia help the silver wolf stand and walk out the door.
"Which way to the garage?" Steven yelled over his shoulder.
The general paused for a second, "Two floors down, second exit."
"Thanks Pepper," the fox said running out of site of the door.
"Its been a pleasure General," the panther saluted, not that it was returned. "Good day," he said backing out the Dalmatian standing behind him. As they backed out the door, they bolted down the hall way, the sound of the shoulders feet clopping on the floor behind them. The group sprinted down the stair cases and exited strait into the garage where Jason had knocked out the guard and taken a set of key from the peg board and tossing them to Damain.
"Its van 22," Damain yelled. They rushed to the van and pulled the back doors open, Damain jumping in to the drivers seat and started it. The back door slammed shut as Dalia jumped in, the tires screeched as the van sped out of the parking space, slamming threw the cross gate at the entrance and screeched out onto the road.
"This thing got sirens?" Steven said looking up from his position kneeling over the wounded wolf.
"Got it," Damain said flipping a few switched, the sound of the sirens whined into the depths of their ears. "The closest hospital is yours."
"Good, I want to make sure she's okey," the fox said.
The van flew threw the surface streets, tires screeching as they rounded the corners fast, almost too fast. Flying threw one of the signal lights nearly causing an accident with cross traffic. Soon they found themselves stepping out of the van and into the emergency room, the white vulpine disappearing down the hall next to a gurney with Sable strune on it. Aaron sat, still hugged tight by Dalia.
Hours passed, while they waited for the word from the fox-doctor. Soon a nurse came along, and asked them to fallow her to a meeting room. The nurse led them back into the halls. Stepping into the dark room, only where the table was lit. The group sat down at the table and remained silent. The nurse then checked for any other wounds. Finding that the only other one was of Ryan's left shoulder. The rabbit made quick work of sealing it up then walked out of the room.
A few more hours passed, time streaming by. A viewing screen was turned on by Aaron, his face still soaked with his own salty tears. The sound of the report spoke, "It is uncertain what caused this crash today at the capital building. But, it is led to believe that it has to do with a small skirmish over territory from the HexWinds. A fire fight broke out around the Lunar Space Station earlier today, where this shuttle craft had been knocked from its dock. Landing here in the side of the capitol building. Casualties have been counted, only one was found dead. Killed instantly from the initial impact. Several others were wounded by a shockwave that ripped threw the building..." the screen shut off.
"They will never know what happened there, will they Commander," Aaron said, the first words spoken in hours.
"I sure hope not," the panther said rubbing the shoulder of the wet faced wolf. "She's going to be fine."
"I'm sure of that," Dalia said, "I've never met any one as resilient as her. Shell make it threw just fine." The young wolf smiled and the room fell silent again.
A knock came at the door, as it slowly opened. A White muzzle poked in fallowed by a face, "Every one in here?"
Ryan leapt from his chair pulling the door open, leaving the fox standing in the door way, "Doc, its you."
"Who did you expect James McCloud?" the fox sassed.
"Is she going to be alright doc?" Aarons tired out voice said.
"There's good news and bad news," the fox said, still wearing the surgical scrubs, "She has lost a lot of blood, but she's going to serve." A sigh of relief erupted from the room, "But, the shot penetrated her skull and hit one of the neural blocks. It was connected to her cerebral cortex."
Dalia spoke, "And doc?"
"Her prognosis for reverting to the way we knew her is slim. I would give her a 20/80 chance of remembering any thing that has happened to her since she was mind wiped the first time."
"You mean she wont remember any thing. She wont remember us at all?" Aarons matted face lifted from his hands.
"There is a chance that this part of her brain was the section that was dedicated to shot term memory. But, I'm not ruling out the fact that she may have suffered a very large, and more than likely, her last mind wipe." The room fell quiet again, a chime came over Stevens COM link, "Steven here, what's up?"
A familiar nurses voice spoke, "Got a call with vid coming threw for you."
"Transfer it to the conference room," Steven said picking up the remote.
A head floated in the center of the screen, "Doctor, I understand that your talents have saved the one you call Sable."
"Yes, general. I have saved her. Why do you sound disappointed?"
"Because I am forced to disavow all knowledge of her ever existing as a spy," the general said, "Now after further consideration, I have decided to turn her over to the custody of the hospital until she is well enough to walk on her own."
Ryan stood up, "What's the catch?"
"No catch commander. I am doing this out of pure kindness." the bloodhound said with a smile.
"General, what was she doing as a spy in the HexWind clan?" Dalmains voice spoke.
The blood hound let out a sigh, "She was placed in the group after we got information that the HexWinds may have been supplying Venom with several documents containing weapons in the defense grid and weapons from a transfer point around MacBeth."
Aaron stood up hard, "The Hex Winds would never do some thing like that!" he exclaimed. "They hate the lizards just as much as the rest of us!"
"And who are you?" the General said
"I am Aaron McCabe," he paused looking over at the commander, "under the rank of Private to the commander, and a member of the HexWind."
"Well then private, would you be interested in making a statement to clear your Clans name?" the blood hound said.
"Take my statement now," the young wolf cleared his throat, "THE HELL THAT WERE HELPING VENOM. We would rather sit on the surface of Solis than help those discussing slime bags!"
"Statement noted and marked," the general said sharply, "Oh, Commander."
Ryan spoke up, "What?" he said shortly.
"You may want to keep this team together. I may have some work for you in the near future."
"Yes general." the panther saluted, receiving one in return.
"The money and the parts that you have requested are being assembled and assigned to your name Commander Dason. You have all the supplies that you need to fix your ships." the General paused for a second, "Have a good day."
The screen went black then displayed the seal of the Enterprise. Again the silence defend the room, the groups minds sliding back to thought of Sables condition. "I propose a group name." Ryan said.
"And that would be?" Damain said, his ears focusing on the commander.
"Since we have found ourselves battling inside the government I suggest some thing that would raise from this darken hole we call Corneria. For some reason I have a feeling that we are going to be the last hope for this world."
"Out with it," Jason said.
"I propose the name DarkAngel for the group name, in honor of our only severely wounded Sable," the group fell silent for a moment.
"DarkAngels," Aaron said, "I like the sound of that."
A sharp beep came from the doctors waste band. He looked down, "Well, it looks like the patient is waking up."
Dalia all but flew out of the chair, "Then what the hell are we doing down here?" She said sprinting threw the door. The cluster of comrades stood and walked threw the door, forcing Dalia to move slower threw the hall ways. Dalia being a track star during the academy days always made seem like she was in a rush and her equine back ground didn't help that at all either.
Reaching the elevator, they piled into it, almost exceeding the maximum load when the burly bear steps on. After passing several floors the doors opened with a ding. Stepping out and into the hallway, they walked Steven leading the way. Steven came to a stop at a window that looked in on the wounded wolf. They all looked at each other for a moment, silent but yet jubilant. The white fox opened the door slowly and stepped in. "Wait here for a moment, I want to make sure she's coherent."
Ryan nodded in response, "What ever you need to do."
Steven closed the door behind him as she walked to the bed side, "Sable, can you hear me?"
A very faint voice, so quiet and soft it sounded like air passing threw her lips, "Steven? Is that you?"
The fox pulled a pen light out of his fest pocket, "Yes Sable, its me." he said pulling her eyelids open and shining the light in them. Her eyes flickered in response, "Feeling better?"
"Feeling better?" She paused, "Why? What happened?"
"Sable, your in a hospital. You were wounded when we reentered the atmosphere," he said calmly.
The sable colored wolf picked up her hand and reached to scratch her forehead, "What the hell happened to me?"
"You were shot, Sable."
"Are you sure," she said her hand moving listlessly, "I don't remember it."
"I have some people here that are just dying to get in here to talk to you," Steven said motioning the waiting group on the other side of the glass.
Aaron was, of cores, the first one threw the door, "Sable, how you feeling?" he said approaching the bed, his tears beginning to well up in his eyes.
"I've felt better," she said, her hand falling back down to the bed.
Ryan stepped up to the side of the bed to stand next to the young wolf, "How does it feel to be shot and survive?"
"When was I shot?"
Steven turned to Ryan, "She doesn't seem to remember any thing from the past few days."
Aaron leaned down the her and gave her a hug, "I thought we lost you," the tears beginning to role down his muzzle.
"Me? I would never leave a student mid-lesson," she said drying the tears from the wet fur of Aarons muscle.
Steven looked at the others, "We should give them some time alone. He could probably tell her what happened with out her having a total recall." Steven looked back at the sobbing wolf, "Take your time, she will remember when the time comes." With a firm pat on the young wolfs shoulder, the vulpine ushered the others out of the room into the hallway, the door shut tight behind him
"So now what?" Dalia said, "She's not going to remember any thing."
The fox looked threw the glass at the two wolfs, "Now, I didn't say that. She could be suffering from temporary amnesia. That block that I took out has been over riding that area in her mind for so long it make take some time for the function to come back."
"It was attached to her short term memory?" Damain said, "What good would that do?"
"Well, it would ask at her short term memory. When it was time..." the fox made a electric fizzling sound, "Like pushing the computers manual reset button."
Ryan's ears flatten to her head, "Then how does she remember us?"
Steven looked at his pad of paper, "Well, the block acts as a bridge that doesn't mean that information goes under it. She may not be able to remember right now, but eventually she will. Its kind of like an old analog data disk. The information's there, its just really faint," he looked up from the small sketch and handed it to Jason, "Plus, names a places are stored farther back on her brain map."
The door opened slowly, the sobbing Aaron stepped out, "Well, she doesn't remember any thing, she thinks she's still 22."
"But?" Dalia said, "there's always a 'but'."
"But, she does remember us and names of every one that she has ever come into contact with," Aaron paused and looked down at the dusted uniform he wore, "but she doesn't remember her old boyfriends name."
Steven looked down to the tear-soaked face, "She's been traumatized, it'll just take some time."
A moment of silence, then "So what now?" Jason said in a cheery voice.
"Well," Steven said, "there's nothing any of you can do here. So you might as well go home. I on the other hand have stacks of reports to finish."
The group looked at each other, "So when's the debriefing?" Damain said.
Ryan rubbed his chin, "Lets say, noon tomorrow at the spot," he said. "table twelve I think."
"The Spot?" Dalia said, "Why there?"
"I don't think any one would think we are hiding any thing if we're in the open," Ryan said.
"Well then," Jason said griping Dalia's hand, "We bid you good day, Commander Dason." A sharp salute coming from the burly bear.
Ryan simply bowed his head in response, "Good luck you two." Jason and Dalia walked down the hall and rounded the bend fallowing the exit signs.
Damain spoke, "So where are you going?"
"I think I'm going to stay her tonight," the now calm wolf said, "I don't want to leave her incase she remembers some thing."
Damain smiled, "Well just remember, if you need a place to stay while planet side just feel free to ask," he said rubbing his hand on the short hair on the wolfs head.
"Thanks Damain," he said with a small smile on his face. He looked up to Ryan, "I guess your going to be wanting this back," he said motioning to the green suit he wore.
"I think it'll survive one more night," Ryan said. Damain turned to the commander saluted and walked away. "Tell you what though," he paused, "I'm going to get you one of those for you," the panther said smiling.
"What?" Aarons ears flattened to his head.
"I'm going to assign you to the Academy," he paused putting his hand on his shoulder, "under my supervision."
"What?!" Aaron said a smiling from ear to ear, "How?"
"I like the way you operate. Plus, I know some strings that I can pull so you don't have to pay for it," he said.
"Thanks!" Aaron said leaning into hug the panther.
"I take it you like the idea?" Steven said.
Ryan reached into the red-dress jacket inside breast pocked and pulled out a severely warn book with the words 'Cornerian Military Academy: Hand Book'. "Take this... Its a little light reading."
"Commander," Aaron said, "thanks."
"No sweat, Private McCabe," Ryan said with out hesitation.
"Sir!" he said with a salute, turned and walked back into the room.
"He has potential," Steven said, letting the blinds fall over the wired glass window.
"He sure does," Ryan said nodding, "Did you see the way he moved in that hallway?"
"Like a pro," Steven said looking up into the panthers blue eyes. An odd silence fell over the hall, "So, umm... d- Do you think..."
The panther cut him off, "Tell you what before you put a foot in your mouth. If you play your cards right, I might consider trying a relationship thing."
"I-I wouldn't want to make you feel odd or any thing. I would.... " the foxes maw was silenced with a kiss on his black leathery nose.
Ryan pushed the fox back against the wall, bearing his maw into the foxes. Retracting, "I said maybe," he said with a smile. The fox remain silent, "Here's my card, and you'll be at the debriefing tomorrow."
The fox stood silent for a moment not sure what to say, "Ye-yes, ill be there," stuttering in shock.
Ryan smiled and walked down the hall to the elevator, leaving the flabbergasted fox to his own devices. 'I wonder if we can make this whole DarkAngel thing work. Its going to be very tricky,' he thought rounding the corner of the hall. ...and how much of the information in Sables head was lost, if any.' Entering the elevator, 'I guess I should contact the Hex-Winds and tell them what's up. I doubt if it was true about them smuggling weapons to the Venom Alliance.' The elevator doors opened on the ground floor, walking to the glass doors he pulled on the red scorched marked officers hat, 'I cant wait to see how much paper work I have to do when I get home.'
Walking down the steps, he hailed a cab and flopped down in the seat, "Halon Transit port."
The gruff voice thick with an accent, "The Transit port is closed now."
"I know that, I need to pick up my car," Ryan said sinking into the seat. The cab fell silent as the panther sunk back into thought, 'What other curveballs is the General going to throw at us next. Assigned 'Special force' unit is not going to be easy.' He looked out the window and up to the sky seeing the ring around the planet aluminates by the sunlight being bent around the planet, "So pretty," he said.
"Excuse me sir, but you look like your love sick," the cab driver said.
"'cuse me?" the panther said stiffly.
"Well, if you don't mind me saying, you look like you've had a date that left you speechless."
The panther shook his head, "Na... just a long, hard, fiery day."
The panther let a great breath fall from his muscle, "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
"I've heard some strange things in my time," the drive said trailing off into some long story about a guy that he had driven for a few months ago. Ryan had all but ignored the drive, only answering when the questions popped.
The driver pulled up to the front terminal, the same guards from earlier walked down to the side of the cab, "Sir the Transit is closed."
Ryan put the cap back on he head as he claimed out the rear passenger door, "I know that, I'm just here to get my car."
"Commander, so sorry. I didn't know," the guard said pulling himself up into attention.
"As you were," Ryan said, "Don't you ever go home?" he said handing the driver his credits card.
"My shift ends in thirty minutes," the guard said. "Standard twelve hour days."
"Now I remember why I decided to become a pilot," the panther laughed taking the card from the driver, "Thanks," he said and turned back to the guard, "Ill put in a good word for you, but you better get back to your post."
"Thank you Commander," the guard saluted and walked back to the door to wait for his replacement.
Ryan walked like a scarlet shadow across the road into the parking lot digging threw his pockets. He pulled out a mass of melted metal, and looked at it. "Guess they did get me twice," he said looking at the chunk of metal, "Guess I wont be using keys this time." Ryan walked coming to one of the sparsely parked cars. He put his hand on the car and drug his hand across the metal of the trunk, around the side, up and over the small suicide door and down to the door handle. "Come on baby, recognize me."
The car set silent for a moment, then a chirp from the alarm system, "Keyless enter recognized."
The panther sighed in relief and opened the door, "Computer start motor." after a moment the car started and all the dash lights lit up. "Okey, find me some 2000 Earth Pop music." Music and voices mangled and meshed together and popped onto a music feed playing Three Doors Down Kryptonite. "That'll do," Ryan said backing the car out of the parking space.
Exiting the parking lot and getting on the motor way, he looked down at the computer readout on the dash, seeing that the cloaking device was still active. "Nope, not going to do it." the panther laughed to himself, "I'm too tired to drive that fast tonight."
Fifteen minutes went by, when he passed the mile marker where he had nearly wiped out a patrol car. A smile crossed his face resembling the look of the officers face as he reached to pick up the scattered papers. Driving on after another fifteen minutes he came an exit, taking it onto the surface roads the music flipped to a slower song. The panther began to grow weary. Pulling into his drive way. He opened the door and slinked out of it. He walked to the door and placed his hand on the panel. A click from the door unlocking, he opened it and walked in pealing his clothes off as he made way to his room at the other end of the house. He sat down on the foot of the bed, the only light coming in threw the patio door of the glowing ring around the planet. He stood up and walked into the bathroom and started the shower. Calling for half light, he pulled of the remaining clothes and stepped into the small tiled cell.
Letting the water soak his fur, he washed the days grime away. He stood there a long time letting the water just beat on him. The water was turned off and he stepped out reaching for a towel to dry himself. He looked at the mirror over the sink. He leaned forward and scratched his canine teeth with his metal claw.
Ryan drew his head back and walked back into the bedroom and flopped down on the bed the stuffed cheetah from earlier in the day bouncing and falling on his back. "Well, little fella. I guess its just you and me," he said pulling the plushy closer. He closes he eyes pressing his face into the face fur on the cheetah. A tear began to swell up in his eye, the stress and emotions of the day finally taking there toll on the strongest of the group. He laid there, sobbing into the false fur of the cheetah. Slowly, but surly sobbing himself to sleep.
Night had covered the city, the minds of millions sit at rest unknowing of the events of the day. Dalia and Jason sat alone and asleep in each others arms in they're apartment some where in the main part of the town. Damain had gone home to his small house a few blocks from the hospital, asleep. Aaron had sat up vidual next to his teacher, but had fallen asleep waiting for Sable to say some thing. She too was asleep.
Steven had gone into his office and said down for a moment. He laid down on the couch in his small cube of an office and fell asleep knowing that no one would miss him. Clutched in his hand was the card of Ryan Dason, the commander of the newly formed DarkAngles. One day, they will be called upon to do a task for the greater good. Some day, the time will come.
To Be continued...?
Fox McCloud, James McCloud and General Pepper are (c) of Nintendo Corperation and are in no way claimed by Foxx Smidt