A round-robin story
Part 3 by Allen Fesler © 2006

The next morning, Mary begged her father for a day at the spaceport. He only agreed after she promised she wouldnít try anything crazy like her cousin had done. She had readily agreed. After all, it wasnít like she was trying to go herself!

She wandered around her fatherís building until things got busy, then she went back to their PTV for the package. Once she had it, she headed for the freight area.

Having avoided the main data boards to avoid suspicion, she worked her way over to where the larger shuttles and pods were placed to transfer their loads.

She was coming around an unloaded pod when she saw the strangest looking shuttle. While it was shaped like many of the other shuttles that were parked in the area, this one looked like it had scales; scales that went from a dark aqua at the top, to a mother-of pearl white at the bottom. Stepping closer, Mary could see that the paint had been applied in circles, most overlapping others - and themselves then being overlapped.

Mary was so busy studying the colors; she missed the chakat youth that came up behind her.

"Youíre not suppose to be here," the little chakat said, startling Mary out of her study of the fish scale hull.

"And you are?" Mary fired back, trying to not be sent back to the port building before she completed her task.

Indicating the hull that had so intrigued the feline, the chakat said, "My shipís shuttle, so yes, I have a right to be here."

"I was looking for the Folly and got sidetracked by your pretty shuttle," Mary admitted.

"The Follyís too big to land on a planet," the chakat pointed out.

"I meant her shuttle; one of my cousins sometimes flies it. By the way, Iím Mary."

"Hyjinx. I heard my folks making jokes that the Folly now had a greenhorn crew. So your cousin was one of them?"

Mary nodded. "Do you know where they parked?"

Hyjinx shook hir head. "As my sire likes to say; Ďa day late and a credit shortí. Folly left orbit last night."

"Oh no! I was hoping they could take something to Chakona for me!"

"What is it?" Hyjinx asked, having already noticed the package Mary was holding.

"A few things from two of my friends to their aunt. But if the Follyís gone, I canít keep my promise to help them get it to Chakona."

"Maybe we could take it," Hyjinx said, sensing that Mary was growing distressed.

"Wonít your parents say no?"

"I think I can do it. If they say no, Iíll tell them we have to return it to you." Hyjinx grinned as shi added, "Once we leave orbit, it will be cheaper to take it to Chakona than to return it."

"How do you know that?" Mary asked.

"I heard them griping about it when someone pulled a fast one and didnít pay us after we had signed the shipping contract."

"What did they do?" Mary wondered.

"They argued with the company all the way to the planet." Hyjinx grinned, "Then they did the letter - and not the spirit of the contract." When Mary just looked confused, shi explained, "The contract was to the planetís orbit Ė not another ship or to the planetÖ"

"So they just left the cargo in space?" Mary asked in wonder.

Hyjinx nodded. "And my captain was so mad, shi just open the bay and pushed it out while we were under power, so it was spread out all over their high orbit. Shi said it would cost them more to collect it than they had cheated us for."

"Wonít your captain just space this when shi finds it?" Mary asked as she tightened her grip on the package.

"Na, momís cool," Hyjinx said with a grin. "Especially if Iíve given my word that I will help you with it."

Mary slowly smiled. "So will you give me your word that you will help me get this package to Chakona?"

"Sure!" Hyjinx said, holding out hir hands for the package.

Mary handed it to hir and shi looked it over. The top had a mailing type label that Sweetspot and Snowthaw had made.


Sweetspot, Snowthaw & family

Auntie Flametail on Chakona
Chakat Flametail, daughter of Scarletpaws and Ironpelt
(and mate to Copperback)

This package traveled by way of:
Cape York Spaceport by Mary


Hyjinx grinned and grabbed hir marker. Shi carefully added a new line.

Shuttle ĎGuppyí and the good ship ĎBlowfishí in care of: Hyjinx

Smiling at Mary, shi said, "Mom wonít tell me no now. You better head back before someone misses you. I promise to get this to Chakona."

Mary gave hir a hug in thanks before turning to leave.


Continued in The Package, part 4.

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