[READING] [V & A Shipping] Chapter 65
Vic’s eyes opened at June’s alarm. Through the wall he saw the black drone heading toward the ship on an intercept course. It would never come in contact with them, but it would give their position to whoever left it here. Had to be that Sheriff.
Vic rolled over and struggled to get out of bed. “No rest for the wicked, eh?” He smiled at June.
Where had he gone wrong with her? At one time they were so close. They would just sit for hours and talk and talk. Business had to be done and slowly she just kept more and more to herself. She spent a lot of time talking to Dexter, but that couldn’t be it. That was an effect, not a cause.
He had to put her out of his mind for the time being. She’d made it pretty obvious that she fancied Joey anyway. What could he do? Fight Joey for June?
Think about the drone.
Vic stood up and shuffled over to June. She took his arm and put it around her shoulders and helped him to the cockpit. They hadn’t walked this way in a year or more.
Think about the drone.
“Argmon, do we have any drones of our own?”
Argmon growled and shook his head. They’d have to do this the hard way.
“Tootsie! Can you pilot the Iron Butterfly?”
“Can you get it out there and get that drone off our tail before we get up to this first black hole?”
“I don’t see your point, Vic. The drone could have plotted our course by now.”
“Yes, but they’re not going to expect us to go in so close to the black holes.”
“That little drone won’t be able to follow us around the black hole either.”
“Tootsie, I didn’t ask for an argument. If you’re not going to go out there, what else can you do?”
“I can shut down all systems for five minutes. It’ll fly past us. Then we continue on and trail it instead of it trailing us. The drone only has front facing radar and tactics. If we’re behind it, it’ll circle around and by that time we should be well beyond its range.”
“But if you shut down for five minutes, won’t we all die?”
“Vic, I’ll leave life support on for you. It’s looking for engines, power transmissions, things like that. If we’re only running with life support, we’ll be fine.”
“Kid, how close does that put us to landing on Planchar if we’re down for five minutes?”
“No good. We’ve only got four minutes and thirty seconds as it is. And that’s just an estimate.”
Vic looked up and took a haggard breath. “Tootsie, can you do this with less time?”
Tootsie clicked. “Yes. The least amount of time I can do it for and still assure it passes us by is three minutes.”
“That gives us one minute to get onto the ground once we hit the atmosphere of Planchar. Tootsie, I need you to signal ahead to Planchar as soon as we’re back up. I want you to signal that we need a landing vector and possibly a crash course.”
“Shutting down all systems.”
The lights went out and the view screen darkened. They’d dropped out of hyperspace. Vic knew it was going to be a long three minutes. The only light in the entire ship emanated from softly lit console. Argmon sat upright with all four arms ready to get the ship back on course.
Vic faltered, but June held him up. He wanted to hug her. He wanted to apologize again. He couldn’t be angry at Joey, it wasn’t the kid’s fault he was here. It wasn’t his fault that June liked him.
Joey suddenly stood up. “Hey Vic, I’m sorry, I should have let you sit down.”
“No you’re not,” June reprimanded and unceremoniously dropped Vic into the seat.
“We’ve only got another minute or so. Joey and I will go back to the lounge and buckle in. Argmon has the plot.”
“Yeah, you two go and get ready. This is going to happen fast.”
And she left. Happy for the darkness, Vic took a little comfort that they had left. Perhaps June had even knew he didn’t want to be around them right now.
But he didn’t want them to go away. Hell, even he didn’t know what he wanted right now. If he had his way, he’d just sell the ship and call it quits. The only one he was certain of in his loyalty was Argmon. They’d been at this together since the start. He knew he could put his life in Argmon’s hands and never be disappointed.
Well, he could do that with any of them, but it wasn’t his life he worried about. His heart, now that was another matter.
“I need to stop brooding.” He told himself.
“Thanks for agreeing. Is it that obvious?”
Vic could just make out the hint of a smile on Argmon’s snout.
“Just keep your eyes on the road. As soon as Tootsie is back up we need to move. I sure hope the kid’s right on this one. Do you think he’s right?”
Argmon’s gaze never shifted, but he didn’t answer. That spoke volumes to Vic. Argmon had enough confidence, or bravery. Either way, they were going to go fast around two black holes. No one had ever tried anything like this and very likely no one ever would again.
Tootsie’s lights came back up.
Argmon hit the controls and the ship took off.
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