A few days after the meeting with Reade and the others, Furieux boarded the Deception and set a course for Xyile. Dillon had suggested that he store the Dropship in favour of utilizing one of the new Assault variants that belonged to the Raven fleet. Furieux agreed with him, thinking that the specialized combat vessel would be far more suited to the operations conducted in Bedaho and prepared to fly back to navy hangar on Raven’s Landing to pick it up.
Arriving at the headquarters of the Raven’s Scouts, Furieux once again exchanged pleasantries with the rather rambunctious and kooky lady who ruled the lobby outside Ginova’s office, Mizz Cara Fey. Ginova’s secretary was a larger than life character who’s flirtatious nature was akin to his own. This led to a particularly jocular conversation between the two;
“Hello again, Mr. Devil,” said Fey as Furieux approached the desk.
“Hello Mizz Fey,” he smiled. “Looking lovely as always, I see. “
“Flattery will get you nowhere with me, you rascal, but don’t let that stop you.”
Furieux laughed at her deadpan expression. “I’ll bear that in mind, sweetheart. Is Ginova around?”
Fey cleared her throat. “I am sorry to inform you that Fleet Commander Ginova is currently away on business at the moment. But rather than your visit be a complete waste of your time and mine, can I put you down for a later date?”
“Yay!” she squealed. I know a little place on the fifteenth floor. Does a romantic candlelight dinner under a genuine cherry blossom sound good?”
“For our date.”
“Our date? No. You misunderstand. I want to see Ginova”
“I told you, he isn’t here.”
“No, I mean I want to set up a date with Ginova.”
Fey pouted. “Why? What’s wrong with me?”
“My dear Mizz Fey,” Furieux responded, “There is nothing at all imperfect about you, but I am extremely busy at the moment. Another time perhaps?”
“Ill hold you to that, Jewel.”
“Whatever. Oh, by the way, Some floozy dropped this off for you. Red haired tramp. Paraded around like she owned the place. Posh. Clever. Not your type.”
Furieux stared at her. Anais? Had his sister been at Raven’s Landing? Fey was an enigma. Brutally honest with a sharp wit. A gal with attitude. He liked her, though she was three times his age.
“Red head? Did she give you her name?” he asked taking the package from her well manicured nails.
“I never asked. She wanted to speak to the Fleet Commander. I suggested that she wait for you, but she said she had more important things to do. I of course, responded politely and informed her that she could stick her high and mighty attitude up her… “
“Thank you, Mizz Fey.” said Furieux. “I’ll be seeing you soon.”
“You had better, Devil. I’ve got my eye on you. “
By the end of yet another exasperating exchange, the Commander’s details had been recorded, the Assault ship registered to his pilots federation licence and Furieux had been inadvertently foxed into agreeing to join Mizz Fey on a dinner date at some point in the future. Whether he would keep that promise remained to be seen.
Back on board the Type-9, the Nineveh’s Kiss, Furieux laboured over a wall mounted terminal at the rear of the cockpit. The ship was an old vessel. It was space worthy but some of the internals were in need of replacing or updating. Some of the system’s firmware was over thirty years old, older than Furieux himself. He was amazed that the bird still flew. The fact that the ship had once belonged to a mother that he never knew was still something he was coming to terms with. He cursed as yet another spark shocked and traveled up his arm.
“Screw this jazz. Where’s Star when you need her?” he said to himself, remembering her expertise with life support systems.
Life often dealt you a bad hand from time to time but that was no reason to be sad. Sure, he had been someone. He had been the great Furieux, leader of the 8th Dragon Squadron. It seemed a distant memory and one that Furieux wanted to forget. He didn’t like the man he had become. He didn’t want that sort of fame. He only wanted to have a good time. Furieux loved the simple things. The drink, the women, the laughs. But he began to care. About himself and the people around him and the day that Furieux began to care, was the day he ceased to be Dragon. No bonds, no ties, no attachments. His simple mantra still held but it was getting harder and harder to police. Furieux returned to the command chair and looked at the package, turning it this way and that. Stuff like this always meant sentimentality; as transient as stars, as tiny as himself in the grand scale of things. After a swig of gin, he thumbed it open and removed the contents; a printed piece of paper and a small stone that dropped into his lap. Puzzled and intrigued by the use of this archaic method of communication, he began to read;
I hope this letter finds you well. I know not where you are, and I pray you aren’t dead. If you are alive, I swear I will find your corpse and kick you for being that stupid as to get yourself killed. Dumbass. People still miss you, so you better be alive.
The Dragons still thrive, though they’re in limbo after your disappearance. I’ve been turned to as one of the leaders…but I’m no leader. I’m sorry for the things I’ve said to you.
Look…I don’t know why you left. But know that people still care about you and miss you. I know nothing I say will ever change your mind if you left on purpose. But you were a bigger asset to us than you gave yourself credit for.
Enclosed you will find a pendant. I wrapped it in wire myself. It’s a gift. I swear if you return it I will never forgive you. It reminded me of an Orca…I wanted you to have it. Take care of it for me. You never know…it could hold the soul of your next ship.
Commander Talynne Star, Talyn and the rest of the fleet.
Furieux put the paper down and looked at the pendant. It did resemble his Orca, the Delicate Heart. Maybe as a good luck charm it would serve him well. Removing the cap string from the bottle of Centauri Gin, he threaded it through the pendant and hung it around his neck. It felt warm against his skin.
“This wasn’t how it was meant to go,” he thought, sadly. “Bloody Dragons. Must I do everything?”
Your letter finds me well. I am always well. My departure, however, was intentional; I needed the space, so to speak. I am not dead, so you may keep your assaults on my person limited for now, although with a figure like mine, I can understand why you might wish to attack it. I have to admit I am a tad disappointed how things have gone in my absence. When I departed, it was obvious that you were held in high esteem, a true Dragon if ever I saw one, and my influence waned in your light. Of course, had I been in charge of a bunch of ladies, it would have been a different matter, but I digress. Continuing my occupation as a merc, I have become embroiled in something of a war, and this time its personal. Personal enough that I have made contact with the 8th who have rallied to the cause and many of them have already arrived in Bedaho. As much as my request forced me swallow my pride, I am both heartened by their swift agreement and their willingness to allow me to fight alongside them. That said, I fully expected your support given your abilities and it fazes me that you have not, thus far, joined their ranks in the current campaign. You can berate me all you like for leaving, but ask yourself, haven’t you also done just that?
I’d like to thank you for the pendant. It’s a dead ringer for the Delicate Heart. A beautiful stone, let’s hope it brings me luck, good fortune, and a discount on Centauri Mega Gin.
I miss you,
Furieux powered up the new Assault ship. He had yet to think of a name for her. Work on the Nineveh could wait. Whilst boosting out of the station he thought about the apologetic nature of Star’s communique. None of them had anything to be sorry for. It was all on him. He missed the banter, sure, and it would be good to work with the Dragons again, if only for a short while. He set a course for Bedaho.
“It’s not you, Dragons, its me.” he thought, ruefully. “It was always me.”
He smirked as the frame shift drive charged. That smirk turned into a chuckle which became a full belly laugh that reverberated around the entire ship.