The Long Run
All around Erbo’s pod, as it settled into place, the mighty bulk of the ΡΑΔ Tuomas Holopainen shuddered as its systems came to life. The feeling was different from any other ship he’d ever flown…perhaps because the Holopainen was bigger. Much bigger. He’d had her out twice before this, but the sensations still took some getting used to.
“Republic Security control, this is Rho Alpha Delta Tuomas Holopainen, Ralpha Dogs flight Lima-Tango-One,” he said, the capsule’s comm systems relaying through the big ship’s transmitter. “Authentication code Whiskey-Papa-X-ray-niner-seven-two-zero. Request permission to undock.”
“Tuomas Holopainen, this is Republic Security Services control Assiad III,” came the response. “Authentication code verified. Permission granted. Undock when ready.” Then, in a sardonic voice, the anonymous controller continued, “And make sure not to ding the sides of the docking bay on your way out, buddy.”
“Roger that,” muttered Erbo. He supposed the controller had a point; two things Obelisk-class freighters were noted for were their massive size and their handling characteristics. One of his corpmates had once mentioned that the freighter looked like “a cross between a Borg cube and a Marriott hotel.” While he might have had a point, the massive ship handled about as well as a Marriott hotel as well–slow to turn, slow to move in normal space, slow moving in warp. This wouldn’t make the twenty-seven-jump trip to Vilur any easier.
Now out of the docking bay, Erbo’s tactical display picked up a tagged blip: Selenalore in her Mystic Nightmare, ready to accompany him on the journey out and back. They’d had to evolve a whole new tactical doctrine for moving the two ships, which allowed the Myrmidon-class battle cruiser to keep watch on the Holopainen at all times when it was in normal space. This was vitally necessary, for another thing the Obelisk was known for was its almost total lack of defenses.
Erbo shifted to the Ralpha Dogs’ private communications channel. “Ready to roll?”
“I’ve been ready for the last ten minutes, honey,” came Selena’s honeyed voice over the in-pod speakers.
“Then let’s get to it,” replied Erbo. “Lexx is counting on getting those ship parts here and operative. I’ve got the contracts in hand, all we have to do is do it. Marthia gate, align.”
“Aligned,” responded Selena.
“Initiating warp cycle,” said Erbo, triggering the command to start the mighty warp engines. Slowly–ever so slowly–the Holopainen began to turn, aiming for the jumpgate to Marthia system. When he started into warp, he would give the command for Selena to follow; she would be at the gate waiting for him by the time he arrived.
The run to Vilur and back would test, not their piloting abilities, but their patience.