Guided by Irina, Quan or Autumn, the Lila climbed away from mundane reality, into the tumultuous delta layer. The visuals beyond the bulkheads no longer had any reminiscence of the physical world, a play of lights and whimsical patterns, though the brain, in its stubborn atavism, tried to apply perspective and meaning. Seasoned pilots could fly by sight, knowing the distortions for what they were, but the run of the mill space trucker flew by instruments, which told him of approaching gravity waves and allowed him to steer clear.
Irina found herself dreaming of the jungle's embrace, of strange creatures whose flesh she could claim as hers, of warm rain trickling down her glossy skin, of the rush of endorphins, her muscles a well oiled machine - about as well oiled as her body during a relaxing massage after an evening in the sauna back on Arkona. The para-fir forest sang a haunting tune ever trapped in its conjoined branches as she swam down one of the narrow mountain lakes. She could almost count the calories her adapted brown fat tissue burned, the open ion channels turning the ion gradient into heat. The volkun was the local apex predator, and she ran with them, and was a mother, coiled around her litter in a furry embrace. She roared with the pack, and other bellows joined and echoed in the thick frosty air.
Sweaty, she awoke, her body sending a great many half-understood signals, as if it prompted
her to command it.. somehow.This will be an interesting flight.
She petted Simargl, the two-faced Kotiri greeting her back; he had taken up place in her room, by her bed, as if it was the place he belonged. One week, then they would part.
Autumn was busy with repairs, exercise, piloting, being a bossy first mate, and with a certain needy doctor. Dextrous, uninhibited and inventive, Sunny gave Autumn a run for her money - and had a prehensile tail that knew all of the hound's happy places. Autumn had to smirk as she saw her bring the same sort of energy to her other dealings, whether it was dragging Jerome to the ship's gym to repair it and spot for her (he ended up exercising himself), or whether she was busy stuffing the ship's supplies down the Kotiri stowaways' throats, or working away in the infirmary/lab. The doctor might have been the empath on the ship, but Autumn knew well that this was the look of a person trying to keep busy.
Quan, in his usual suave way, convinced the rest to games of cards and chance, skillfully winning the easier chores. In the remaining time, he managed to sweep the ship with Irina's aid, collecting whatever valuables and illicit goods the smugglers had stored - it made for a sizable pile.
"We've got twenty pounds of Spice, ladies" he finally concluded, "three hundred kilos of protein-vitamin supplements, and seven thousand doses of polyvalent nano-vaccines. Cherenkov must have planned a stop at some frontier colony. Of course, then there's the guns."
Mentioning weapons usually fixates all gazes upon you - the same happened now. "Low quality assault rifles, but they kill a man dead nonetheless. These are fringe worlds, with no power-armored police around - having rifles and the men to hold them is ninety percent of the law."
He helped Irina pull out a crate, displaying its lethal metal cargo: "A few dozen unregistered guns, plus hollow points and armor piercing slugs. You could start a banana republic with those."
Sunny added: "Combined with the prefab housing and agricultural machines, we might seem like honest-to-God merchants. There must be a frontier world where we could ditch those."
With a droning hum of the engines, they descended back into the mundane world, a warm orange star ahead, and a vibrant nebula surrounding them. The Lila dashed forward, towards the blue orb of Kotir, the second of the sun's chidren.
The world possessed shallow seas and two large moons, coupled with a noticeable axial tilt. The weather, tides and seasons had to be interesting. The more distant moon seemed alive as well and the third planet too - what rare bounty! If the Kotiri ever develop space flight - or are helped - their system will be a veritable cornucopia. A cradle of life.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6aQEFzB3zQ