A round-robin story
Part 12 by Gregg Anderson © 2006

As Darkstreak pulled Hyjinx towards the small gathering of adults, the larger chakat cub gripped the other’s tail to slow and stop hir. With a soft whisper, shi leaned over to speak into the charcoal-colored cub’s ear. "I want to hear what they say before we fly down to Chakona. I was there when everything happened, but it went so fast that I wasn’t able to see too much of it. My sire ordered me not to watch the view screen while they tried to regain control of the Blowfish. I’ll be honest, I was more than a little scared." Shi hesitated for a moment before adding; "Okay, I was a lot scared, and I kind of cheated and peeked at the screen. I’d heard of pirates but I never thought they were really real."

Darkstreak nodded, then moved closer to the larger cub, still holding the awkward package in hir truehands as shi and Hyjinx tried to stay very quite and invisible as the adults spoke among themselves, listening and watching everything they could.

"Honestly, we had no idea they were there." The gray dappled lynx-tailed chakat spoke, shaking hir head. "We’d dropped out of warp to confirm our bearings since the guidance system began dropping the 48th decimal point with each course calculation two weeks ago. Jasmine and I have been trying to find the cause, but after it left us a quarter parsec off course the last time, we decided not to take any more chances with it until we could get to a space dock for a proper overhaul."

"You’ve told us that already, Chakat Tippytoe. Now please explain how it was that you found yourself under attack and," the Voxxan female looked the other in the eyes, "how it was that you not only survived the attack, but managed to escape and take out your attackers?"

Hyjinx looked over at Darkstreak, whispering into hir ear; "I’m not sure I like that one, she keeps asking nosey questions that upset my parents. It may have been her ship that found and helped us get here, but that doesn’t mean she can do this to my parents, does it?"

Darkstreak could only shrug. "I don’t know, I’ve never seen anything like this before either, but she is wearing a Star Fleet uniform."

The lynx-tailed chakat sighed and again began to repeat the story. "As I said before, Commander Bastet, we were headed back from the outpost on Jaxon’s world after dropping off our last shipment of Steinfelt’s syndrome serum when my mate saw we’d strayed from our course again. I located what appeared to be a quiet and safe solar system nearby, so we diverted there and dropped out of warp to recalibrate. As usual Hyjinx began running diagnostics on the warp core and drive systems while Jasmine and I reprogrammed the guidance system for the third time. We were almost finished when every alarm on the ship went off. The scanner screamed we weren’t alone just as a phaser bolt hit our port warp drive. The impact didn’t quite rip it off the tail mount, but it wrecked it nicely and threw us into a spin. I used the impulse drive to try to stabilize ourselves and, as we slowed, we saw two very odd-looking ships appear on the viewer. If they were any closer, we could have reached out and touched them."

Darkstreak looked over at Hyjinx who nodded. "We were spinning so hard I almost lost my lunch. It took everything I had to hold onto the warp console as it lit up like a Christmas tree. I won’t lie, I was scared to death."

Tippytoe shook hir head as shi finished. "I swear by the stars, they weren’t there before! One moment we were alone in space and then we were under attack! As we slowed our spin, they sent us a sub-light order to surrender our ship if we wanted to survive, but we’ve heard what happens to those who do that. Even if you survive, you’re more than likely going to find yourself on an auction block inside the League of Non-Aligned Worlds."

Tippytoe took in a deep breath, not wanting to admit to what happened next, but Bastet interrupted hir. "And…?"

Shi was rescued by the interruption of a tall, red-haired human. "Give hir a chance, Commander. You are used to space combat, but our friend here isn’t. Given what shi ran into, I’d say shi and hir crew did pretty well." He chuckled softly. "They’re still alive and their ship is still intact, if a bit dented here and there."

The tall Voxxan female frowned and looked back at the human. "I know your reputation, Captain Foster, from sources both within and outside of Star Fleet. That reputation is the only reason you’re standing here right now, that and the lives you saved at New Kiev. I had," she paused, "‘family’ on that starport. However, I will thank you to allow me to finish my investigation as per Star Fleet regulations."

The human smiled, nodding. "Ask away, though I might mention that while it’s not shown on the lists yet, the Blowfish has signed on as part of the Folly’s organization. Tippytoe and Jasmine signed the agreement this morning. So you’ll understand my wanting to sit in on your…" the human paused, "…discussion?"

The Voxxan sighed as she glanced upwards as though seeking divine guidance. "Okay, then I have your permission to continue, Captain Foster?"

"But of course, though you won’t mind if I kibitz a little now and then? And please add my thanks to theirs for your rescue. You and your ship are owed a favor from the Folly, and from myself as well."

The Voxxan started to reply, then closed her muzzle as though surprised. "Well, in that case, thank you as well. Perhaps one day you’ll have a chance to help one of mine." The Voxxan turned back to the dapple-gray chakat. "Okay, so what happened then? When we located the starting point of your distress beacon our sensors picked up the remains of at least one ship, the partial remains I might add, and they were drifting apart rather quickly. We didn’t pick up that second ship you mentioned however." She glanced back to her daughter and received a nod in reply. "By the time we arrived there, you were already well off in the distance doing a sizeable percentage of the speed of light while still in normal space. I don’t suppose you’d care to explain how you had managed to move so quickly, so far, and disable one, if not two, ghost ships?"

Tippytoe looked back at Neal for a moment then gave in and spoke the truth. "Commander, the Blowfish uses a composite drive. She’s got a Star Fleet surplus impulse sub-light unit, a Voxxan based warp core and two drive units, and..." shi paused again, then surrendered and finished; "it also still retains its original drive as well. The Blowfish was built just as Earth discovered its own warp system and made contact with the other star-faring races like yourselves, the Rakashani, and so on. The builders decided it was cheaper to just mothball her and move on when they saw how their competition’s Torch ships failed when they tried to convert them to Warp capability. When we found her, the Blowfish was in surprisingly good shape and the original Torch Drive was in perfect condition. Since it and its H3 fuel tank didn’t take up all the much room, and the bussard net was still intact, I decided to keep it as a backup." Shi smiled as shi looked over to hir mate. "My love disagreed, until I showed hir that taking it out would cost more than keeping it, and that the added cargo room wasn’t worth the expense. It may be sublight, but it’s still the most powerful reaction drive ever designed."

Tippytoe paused, not wanting to meet the Commander’s gaze as the other spoke; "And...?"

"Well, do you know much about a torch drive, Commander?"

"Other than what I read in the history books, and that it’s totally obsolete; not much."

Hyjinx nudged Darkstreak and winked as shi whispered to hir. "This is where it gets good. I didn’t get to see all of it, but my sire opened a panel I didn’t even know was there and started pushing all kinds of buttons and slides. Then shi waited until shi could actually see the strange ships on the viewer."

"Commander, at close range, and in addition to providing an appalling amount of thrust within a pawful of seconds after ignition, it’s one of the most lethal close range weapons in existence. The pirates knew the Blowfish had no phasers or photon torpedoes. Our registry shows us as unarmed so they saw us as a sitting duck. But once lit, a torch drive is like a nuclear laser, as though you’d created a small star and aimed its energy behind you. It may be sublight, but the exhaust moves at almost light speed the instant the fusion reaction is fired up." Tippytoe’s voice grew a bit colder as shi finished. "With the aid of our impulse drive, inertial dampers, and the torch’s own magnetic focus system, you can fire it at full strength and not only run but maneuver. If you plan it right, you can direct just where that exhaust is going to go, and what it might hit."

Both Darkstreak and Hyjinx shivered at that cold statement. Darkstreak whispered softly to hir companion; "You mean, shi aimed at them?"

Hyjinx could only nod. "I didn’t think about it until just now, but shi must have, though I don’t think we had any choice."

The tall Voxxan paused, blinking several times. "You, you mean you used it as a weapon? And what our sensors said was a small star we were chasing as we tried to follow your distress beacon was your drive?"

"Yes sir, I used the impulse drive in conjunction with the electromagnets that focused the torch to spray it over both of the pirate ships. The first one had its shields down when it was hit, I think we melted it in half, though I couldn’t watch long enough to be sure. The second ship was able to raise its shields but they were of little use against the torch, I think the hull and maybe the crew survived but I’m sure their warp units were totally destroyed. I’ve given their location and the direction they were drifting towards when we melted their warp system to Capt. Foster. In case you want to locate and," the lynx tailed chakat smiled slightly, "Interrogate them." Shi paused another moment before adding, "Though, you said you didn’t pick them up on your sensors, so it’s possible they were able to reactivate whatever it is they use to hide from sensor systems."

Commander Bastet could only grumble as she looked back to Captain Foster. "Which means you’re now going to represent the Blowfish and negotiate salvage rights for them?"

Neal smiled and nodded. "I suspect you might learn a few things from the second ship when you find it, if you’ll let me, I can have Tess send your ship a small program that will negate the ghost’s ability to hide. The Blowfish's video indicates there may not be enough left to salvage from the first one but you never know. I’m also sure we can work out suitable salvage fees on the second ship that will help pay for the Blowfish's repairs. Perhaps a few upgrades for her sensors as well, and still leave your ship receiving the credit for the rescue and the capture of an almost intact ghost ship for examination?" The human chuckled as he looked back to the two chakats. "To be honest, I’m rather impressed at how they were able to surprise them with what is supposed to be an antique drive system. I may have to re-evaluate my own opinion of the old Torch systems." He paused a moment before looking back at the Voxxan Commander. "But... unless you’ve other questions, Commander, may I suggest we let Tippytoe and Jasmine get back to their ship? I already have one of my teams on their way there to assist in the repairs, but they’re under orders not to start until these two are onboard."

Hyjinx smiled and nudged Darkstreak. "I think I like this Captain of yours. Most humans seem to pretend we’re not around but this one actually seems to like us."

Darkstreak grinned and nodded. "More than you know, Jinxy. Most of us owe our lives to him."

Hyjinx began to respond when the Voxxan Commander interrupted everyone’s whispered conversations as she nodded and spoke out loudly.

"Okay, I know better than to try and argue with you, Captain Foster. Besides, you’ve the embarrassing talent of being right more often than not and, to be honest, I would very much like to have a chance to examine that second ship you’ve described. If its computers are still intact, and the crew still alive, we may have a chance at finding their base of operations and ending this threat once and for all." She chuckled to herself. "I have to agree, it would be most amusing if they were to be brought down by a technology so antique, it’s been all but forgotten." She looked over to her daughter; "Isaut, get on the com and tell them I’m recalling the crew. We’ve got a ship to locate and information to uncover. Tell them it’s on my order, and anyone not ready to leave in 30 minutes is going to have a very long walk home." With that she turned and strode from the small room, smiling in spite of herself at the prospect of getting her paws on a ghost ship and perhaps uncover their home world.

Isaut, taken quite by surprise, turned and quickly apologized to the chakat cubs as shi relayed her mother’s orders on her wrist communicator before running after her. "Take care of yourselves, my friends!" she called back to the cubs. "Seems this has turned into a lot more than just a simple game of post office. Now we get to play pirate hunters, and…" she couldn’t resist the giggles that snuck into her voice, "maybe next time I’ll have an ‘up’ on my Uncle."

Hyjinx and Darkstreak looked at each other and at the quickly departing Isaut in surprise. "I… is it over that fast?" Darkstreak asked.

Hyjinx quickly glanced at hir parents and, seeing the happy smiles on both their faces, shi had to grin and nod to hirself. "I guess it is." Shi then turned towards the departing Voxxan youth and shouted out, "Thank you, Isaut, for all your help and for your ship’s rescuing ours." Shi sighed as Isaut turned a corner and vanished. "My sire said it would have taken us years to reach someplace we could get help. Maybe one day I can find a way to thank them," shi whispered to hirself, then shi giggled, looking over to the slightly younger chakat. "And maybe my baby sis will be born on Chakona after all." Shi smiled as Darkstreak pulled at hir paw.

"Your sister?" shi asked, just noticing how big around the lynx-tailed chakat was.

Hyjinx nods. "My sire’s due to give birth soon. That was why we were trying to get back to Chakona when we were attacked. They’re hoping for a long-tail this time, though I know they’ll be happy if shi’s just born healthy. I’m so excited, I’m going to have a baby sis to play with and teach. Though to be honest, I’m not looking forward to the diaper and clean up parts."

Darkstreak only shook hir head, not really following. "I think I understand. We’ve not had any babies born on the Folly, yet. Though," shi giggled, "I can hear them trying every night."

Hyjinx just giggled softly and ruffled the younger kit’s head. "I’ll let your parents explain that one. I’m not much older than you are, you know, though my parents don’t exactly hide their love for each other, if you know what I mean."

"My parents now are CalmMeadow and Mike," shi said pointing out the chakat and equitaur. "My birth parents were killed when our mining station was taken over by humans." Hir eyes grew damp as Hyjinx’s own eyes misted over and shi hugged the slightly smaller cub.

"I’m sorry, I didn’t know. I can’t... I can’t take their place, but if you like, I can be another sister for you. If you want, I mean."

Darkstreak wiped the tears from hir eyes and nodded. "I’d like that, especially if your parents will be working with Captain Neal He’s kind of become the sire for the lot of us. He says he has a fondness for stray kittens." Then shi giggled and grabbed Hyjinx’s paw. "Let’s try and find Moonglow and see how soon shi can take us down to Chakona so you can get back to the Blowfish and help with her repairs."

Darkstreak grabs Hyjinx’s paw and pulls hir over towards a large, slightly top-heavy, coffee-and-cream colored cougar chakat. "Moonglow, we’re ready!" shi announced proudly, holding the package before hir.

"Okay, kits. I think we need someone to take us down first." Even as shi spoke, Holly and Quickdash ran out and grab everyone’s paws. "Hurry, they’re holding a slot for us but it won’t last long if we don’t launch soon."

"Hold it you two. You know the rules, and yes, I know you can out-fly anyone on the ship including Neal himself. But as I recall you’re already committed to helping Tippytoe and Jasmine fix and upgrade the Blowfish to the Folly’s standards?"

The two looked at each other and, with a pout, gave in. "Okay, I think Alex should be available. He had to sit second seat on us for the flight here, even though we were able to cut more than ten minutes from the course that the computer tried to give us."

Moonglow smiled and nodded, touching hir com-badge. "Alex, we’re going to need a pilot for a quick trip to the Folly, and then down to Amistad. And Tess, can you do me a favor and have my bike transported to the shuttle and fueled up?"

"Already arranged, Moonglow," came a female voice over the chakat’s badge. "We had a shipment scheduled for delivery to Chakona in two hours, so I am transferring your bike to a pod scheduled to go down with Shuttle Baker. If you can get back onboard before it ships, then you’ll have it waiting for you when you land. I’m sure your shuttle pilot can get you back on board and then take the cargo down for you if he can remember that his duty comes before personal interests?"

Two voices started to reply, overlapping until Tess overrode the other. "Alex says he’ll be ready to bring you back to the Folly in a half hour. It seems he’s in the middle of some sort of ‘business transaction’. Moonglow, I took the liberty of fueling your bike and updated its GPS for Chakona and provided detailed maps for the 1000 kilometers surrounding Amistad. You’ll find it in cargo pod 2 once you’ve landed. I also sent its registration to Chakona so you can ride it legally while we’re in orbit here, along with the fact that you and the kits will be arriving with him."

"Oh, Okay, thank you, Tess, I always forget about that. Please tell Alex he’s got one large and impatient chakat and two very impatient cubs waiting for him."

With that Moonglow gathered the two cubs and the trio headed towards the lift down to the shuttle bay. "So how did you get involved in all this, Hyjinx? Darkstreak tends to just love a challenge, so I’m not at all surprised that shi offered to help."

"I met a feline on Terra, she'd sneaked inside the port to try and get that package moved to someone’s Aunt on Chakona. I, well, she seemed like a nice and honest fur and was looking for her cousin. When I told her she’d missed him by just a day, she seemed so sad because he’d gotten himself onto the wrong ship and headed out into space..." Shi paused a moment, then turned towards Darkstreak. "Wh… What did you say our pilot’s name was? Is he a feline morph?"

Both Darkstreak and Moonglow nodded as the kit added, "His name is Alex, and yes he’s one of the strays that got into one of the Folly’s cargo carriers thinking it was bound for someone else’s ship. He and a few others goofed and found themselves on the wrong ship. Instead of being on a ship owned by one of their family, they were stuck on the Folly. You don’t think he’s related to the feline you got the package from?"

Hyjinx smiled and nodded. "I’ll bet he’ll recognize the name. We’ll find out when he shows up." As the lift settled, the trio stepped out only to find a tall, calico feline male standing in front of them, wearing one of the Folly’s standard issue uniforms.

"Well, seems I managed to beat you after all. The tall feline morph stepped up and nodded to the cubs. "My name is Alex, and since I’ve my full pilot’s rating, I can take you over to the Folly and then down to the surface and back without upsetting any of the PTB’s. Tess has already told me that Baker was loaded and ready, so she can head down to Amistad once we’re onboard. In the meantime, welcome to Echo, one of the Folly’s two shuttles, and yes, she handles like a dream." He looked over at Moonglow and smiled. "Tess also told me I’ll be taking an extra carrier down to the surface for you. I think I can guess which one." He chuckled and smiled at the large chakat and hir small companions. "Come on, let’s get over to the Folly, switch to Baker, and then see how fast we can get the three of you, and Moonglow’s monster machine down to the surface."

The small gray, lynx-tailed chakat looked up at the tall feline as he guided them into the cockpit and helped them strap down. "Oh, by the way. Mary sends her best. She was sorry she missed you on Terra."

The calico almost dropped the seatbelts as he looked at hir. "Mary? You know Mary?"

Hyjinx looked over to Darkstreak and, squeezing hir paw, winking.

"Mary gave me this package on Terra and told me she’d been trying to catch her crazy cousin who’d gotten lost on the wrong ship. Then I gave it to another cub that gave it to another. Well, it seems to have come full circle. Now Darkstreak and I get to deliver it for your cousin. You might want to send her a note so she knows you’re all right?

The Calico could only nod slowly. "Okay. I will. I promise. Now, everyone strapped in?"

He’d been clearly shaken by Hyjinx’s comment, a surprise that gave the young chakat more than a small smile. "I think so. Please hurry. I’ve never been to Chakona., I’ve wanted to see it all my life. I was born on the Blowfish, so this is my first visit."

The trip from the starbase to the Folly went smoothly, though slower than the one Holly and Quickdash had taken to reach the base. "The kits love to ‘push the edge’," Alex commented. "I’m a bit more of the ‘slow and steady type. I think that’s the result of getting myself stuck on the wrong shuttle while trying to move too fast." He lined the shuttle up on the Folly’s glide slope and gently set it down next to a much larger cargo shuttle. "Okay, ladies, gentlemen, gentlefurs, and any wandering deities, please join me on the lift to Baker’s cockpit and strap yourselves in while I complete the pre-departure checklist." He smiled as they stepped off the lift and into the cockpit, letting each belt themselves into place. "Tess, any surprises I should know about?"

"No surprises, Alex. Weather over the port is quiet and there are no signs of incoming traffic that might interfere with your descent."

"Okay, then let’s open the bay and see what Chakona looks like up close and personal."

The trip down went surprisingly well, quiet and with only a few minor diversions for upper atmosphere weather disturbances and one nut-case trying to speed through the descent pattern on a bet. It was a race the pilot quickly lost to the planetary patrol as they nailed him, her, or hir with a tractor beam and pulled the small racing ship down to ground.

Alex laughed softly as he watched the small speeder pulled down to the military post next to the Amistad spaceport. "Well, that one’s going to either end up spending a lot of time in jail, or earn themselves a possible commission in Star Fleet. "

"A commission?" Hyjinx asked. "How could that happen?"

"Well, just getting through what he did and surviving means he’s one very hot stick, so I suspect they’ll offer him a nice long prison sentence for violating every flight rule on the planet or a chance to prove himself as a combat pilot. I hear they get some of their best fighters that way." He then chuckled to himself. "Sorry, it could as well have been a her or a herm, I guess sometimes I still think in old-fashioned ways."

Both cubs giggled at the thought, though Moonglow seemed to hesitate. "It doesn’t seem all that fair, breaking the law and putting a lot of others at risk in the way he, or shi was flying." Shi shook hir head. "Kind of like driving like a madman on the highway, I guess, and then being asked to join the police department?"

Alex nodded as the pod carrier touched down, the gear locking into place on the port’s dock. "I can’t argue, Moonglow, but like I said, sometimes it works and in the long run that idiot with the urge to show off, turns into an ace and saves an entire fleet." He reached out and threw several switches, powering down the drive and activating the cargo lifts. "Okay folks. Time to unload and," he looked back to the cubs, "get your package delivered." The two kits quickly unbuckled their belts and started to dash down the central hall to the cargo section.

"How fast can you get us there, Auntie Moonglow?" Darkstreak asked as shi ran with the package, Hyjinx following close behind hir.

Alex laughed as he finished the final power-down sequence and followed them to the cargo bay, opening the large door to the outside. "Well, welcome to Chakona, all of you and myself as well." He chuckled as Pod #2’s locks released and lowered its load down to the tarmac, the wide door opening and lowering down to form a ramp between the pod and the ground as it felt the firm tarmac under it.

Hyjinx looked over to the large vehicle being offloaded and gasped. "What in world is that? It’s huge!"

Moonglow laughs, stepping into the pod to run hir truehand over the large fuel tank that sat between the long taur seat and handlebars. "It’s my motorcycle, little ones. It was left to me by my grandparents and is all I really have to remember them by. I’ve updated it some so it meets the rules of all of the federation planets, and the pearl white paint and black trim were my own creation. What do you think of it? It’s rather unique, don’t you think?"

Darkstreak and Hyjinx could only stand in awe as Moonglow and the large chakat-sized motorcycle & sidecar moved down the cargo door and onto the concrete surface. "I… I’ve never seen anything like it in my life," the small lynx-tailed cub whispered. "It looks like something out of ancient Earth history."

"It should, kittens. The original design was based on what used to be called a ‘Harley Davidson’. It was a motorcycle from back before the gene wars when the humans were busy polluting their world with dirty motors and coal-fired power electricity plants. This one’s different, and doesn’t cause any pollution though it’s even more fun than anything they had back then. They make more modern versions now, of course, but there’s nothing like the feel of a V-Twin rumbling below you to make you one with the road."

The kits quickly jumped up into the sidecar, gripping its sides as the large package was carefully stowed between them. Darkstreak called out, "Hurry, Auntie Moonglow, we’ve GOT to get it to where it belongs. We’re so close!"

"Slowly kits,." Alex chuckled as he began to speak into his com badge. "First we’ve got to find out where this Aunt of Mary’s friend is supposed to be. I’ve already asked for an address in hir and hir mate’s names from the planetary database. And…" he paused, "we seem to have a ‘hit’. A chakat that matches hir name and hir mate’s name own a home in the Openwood subdivision, about 87 Klicks to the northwest of the port. The address is… 187 Wildwood Drive, Openwood Sub in Clearfield sector." At the press of a small button a slender sliver of metal is ejected from the com badge. He smiled and handed the small data chip to Moonglow. "Happy hunting."

Moonglow accepted the chip and inserted it into a small slot set into the base of the tach and speedometer housing, activating the bike’s GPS. "Okay little ones, everyone strapped in?"

"Strapped in? But, why?" questioned Darkstreak.

"Kitten, this bike may look like an antique, but it’s got a state of the art hydrogen fuel system, GPS guidance set, and an emergency stasis field to protect us all if there’s an accident. But there’s no system in existence that will keep a skittish or careless cub in hir seat. So buckle in and then we’re off."

With a soft grumble, the two kits closed the slightly snug belts around their taur tummies and across their lower backs. At that point Moonglow kicked the lever at the back of the bike with hir hindpaw and the engine roared into life, a huge smile spreading over hir face as shi twisted the throttle and delighted in the noise. "Oh… I’ve missed this SO much…" Then, as shi starts to set it into gear, a guard from the port runs up and taps hir on the shoulder. "Ms, in Amistad, even here in the port, we DO have noise limits? Please, try to tone it down or I’ll be forced to write you a ticket."

"Oh… Okay, sorry, officer." With the touch of a small switch on the handlebar the sound suppressors were activated, reducing the roar to a soft burble. "I forgot, I’ll keep it quiet until we’re out in the country."

The slightly overweight and embarrassed chakat smiled at hir and back at the kits as the guard added; "That should be okay, though if you run into any heavy traffic you’ll want to set it back to quiet. It’s an impressive antique; it must have taken you a lot of hours to rebuild."

"I… well, it’s a long story. If I get the chance, I’ll fill you in when we get back. But now I’ve some eager cubs who want to deliver a very special package. Thank you for being so understanding." With that, shi placed the gearshift into first with a loud ‘thunk’ and slowly released the clutch, easing the bike away from the tarmac, stopping only when they reached the Port’s exit. With a quick glance at the GPS arrow, Moonglow turned the bike right and towards their destination. "You kits having fun yet?"

Darkstreak could only howl out a happy and thrilled "YES!!!!" Hyjinx, still recovering from the pirate attack only a few weeks before, was only able to offer a weak smile and nod. "Oh yes. I… I’ve never gone this fast so close to the ground before. We… we’re really safe?"

Moonglow laughed as shi nodded. "Trust me, kitten, we’re safer right now than when we were in orbit. This bike’s tires can’t go flat or blow out, and we’ve enough fuel to go a thousand kilometers before having to ask Tess to refill us. We’ll be there in no time. That’s one of the advantages of not having a speed limit on the primary public roads here. In fact," shi looked down at the display that hovered over the instrument cluster as shi touched a small button, "I’d say we’ll be there in less than an hour. Now, HOLD ON!!!" With that, shi killed the muffler system and opened the throttle wide. With a huge noise, the bike almost leapt forward as both kits and Moonglow leaned down to hug their seats. Moonglow watched the speedometer’s rapid climb. "50, 70, 90, 120, 150 KMH!" With that the large chakat almost howled in delight. "Now THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE!!!!" Remember it, kittens. Maybe you’ll want to try it yourselves when you’re older."

In almost no time, the GPS system began to blink and flash, forcing Moonglow to slow and take an exit, turning on the muffler suppressors and slowing further until shi was rolling down a small, quiet street filled with the low, wide homes favored by chakats and other taurs. "Let’s see… 180… 85… here it is!" Shi braked the bike to a stop and lets it sit, slowly idling. "Okay kits, I think it’s your turn now.

Both Hyjinx and Darkstreak unbuckled themselves and, pulling the now worn package from its place between them, walked up to the home’s door. They looked at each other, waiting for one of them to ring the doorbell.

It was Hyjinx who spoke first. "No, I took it from Earth, but it was you who brought it to Chakona. We did this together, we both ring the bell." They smiled at each other and together reached up to press the bell, waiting hopefully to surprise the chakat within.


Continued in The Package, part 13.

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