Aye Aye, Butterfly!
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Mission SummaryChapter 1: Roll Out
"We're going to remember these next few days for the rest of our lives."
The Fleet Admirals words echoed through the empty halls of our improvised indoor launchpad, charged with anticipation. Eight pilots strong, our group had assembled for an outpost mission of critical importance. See, rumor had it that a couple of bio-engineers had gotten butterfly joint going in one of the outskirts of the Lowell starsystem. Since butterflies are known to be some of the funkiest drone-organisms in space, a detailed investigation could really further our perpetual mission to Bust the Funk.
A cry of "saddle up!" marked the end of pre-launch protocol, so I settled into the cockpit of Water, newly equipped with a spacious cargo hold for carrying gear and fuel for the fleet. I glanced around at the other pilots going out this mission:
we had Gritty and Wombat, best friends who flew long, hard, and strong;
NOVA with her effervescent presence that shined bright as a laser;
eXceSs running ComSat, whose touring expertise would definitely come in handy;
Red Squirrel on Tailgunner, always so consistently posi and reliable;
our navigator Dr. Claw, Stellar Cartographer extraordinaire;
and of course Skunk, our fearless leader with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Instinctively, I fired up my thrusters, falling into dart formation as the gang took off towards the wormhole and into the night.
Halfway there. Were we halfway there? I thought I heard somebody say that...
Time dilation is normal to experience during space flight, but the combination of lightyears upon lightyears of heavy gravity well activity, Dr. Claw's high warp speed, and the dizzying laser array of Skunk's new ship Syntax Error seemed to be exaggerating the effect.
Suddenly a holler from the front of the fleet snapped me back into the moment. "Sliiiiiiingshoooooooot!" cried Dr. Claw, signaling us to use the gravity to our advantage in this particular series of wells. Does the posi cancel out the negi? Not entirely, but it sure does help.
As midnight approached, it became clear that we would miss our scheduled landing time. Word came from the Dread Pirate Flint, who was running transport support for the mission, had arrived safely with our outpost gear and was heading to bed. "Dang, I wish *I* was in bed right about now," I thought, really starting to feel the wear and tear of space travel in my bones. Luckily, I wasn't left to wallow in the feeling for too long before we found ourselves passing through the center of the Lowell system. The civilian reception was enthusiastic and energizing! So much so that we decided to make a short pitstop before reaching our final landing place to recover a stash of discarded Heavenly Grenades. My new cargo hold came in handy, proving to be just the right size for our haul.
Finally, our ragged crew pulled into the outpost and got straight to work setting up our shelters. Most pilots hit the hay a-s-a-p, but I seemed to have a few more YaYa's to get out. I found Skunk and Dr. Claw in the yard, fiddling with the Knightsaber-Lite, which provided just the right outlet. Before long, we too were tuckered enough to head off to sleep. We would need our rest for the adventures in store the following day.
To be continued......