Chapter Six

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The Addax drifted through the Other. Before Gaylen's eyes danced strands of light, stretching on into a black infinity. Even after all these years of flying they still had the power to fascinate him, and he usually left the cockpit window exposed.

There was a hypnotic quality to the display, and more than one religion insisted that there was great truth to be glimpsed in it. And more than one old spacer insisted that vanished ships weren't simply taken by pirates, or victim of course failure. They were lost in the Other for all time.

Gaylen honestly could stare at it for hours, but reminded himself that he wasn't alone in the room.

"What do you think?" he asked his semi-copilot, disrupting his own near-trance.

"This is the first time I've actually seen it for myself," Herdis said.

He didn't turn his head, but there was a certain amount of wonder in her voice.

"Oh, really?"

"I've only ever flown commercial, as I told you back there."

"I have been on commercial ships that have little viewing platforms," he said.

"I haven't," she said. "And... well, of course I've seen footage. But... it doesn't quite capture it, does it?"

"No," he said. "No, it really doesn't."

"I'm glad I was given that gunnery course."

Gaylen smiled.

The lights went on and on and on. His instruments showed nothing; no solid matter and no heat signatures. Only the course he'd let the computer calculate before leaping, and the degree to which the ship occasionally drifted away from it. Gaylen did what he was here to do and made minute adjustments. Little really did mean a lot in the Other.

The lights began taking on a faint pinkish colour.

"Is that the Korokis Effect?" Herdis asked.

"The earliest stages. But don't worry," he told her and glanced at the course metre. "We're almost there."

He fired up the systems that would help ease them into realspace, then let readouts and experience tell him when to begin the slowdown. Even the best of ships could only handle half-speed for so long, and the Addax was just a decent ship.

They reached a velocity that let them detect planets, asteroids, ships and anything else that might be in the way, and Gaylen put his hand on the stopper.

"Exiting leap," he said over the intercom.

He pulled the stopper down with a click and the lights vanished in a sudden flash, replaced by plain old stars.

"Do you need me for anything?" Herdis asked.

Gaylen looked at the sensor readouts. There were no signatures of any kind.

"No, you go on off. Although before our next leap I want you to take a few actual shots with the cannon."

"As you say. I already unpacked, but I'm going to see about getting to know the others a little bit."

She left, and Gaylen went through all the usual checks, then opened a line to the engine room.

"How are we doing?"

"We are doing just fine," Jaquan said. "There is SOME heat buildup of course. Some of these parts are original. But I'd be confident in making another leap right now."

"There's no rush," Gaylen said..

"I know. Just saying."

It was generally considered wise to go easy on an engine one wasn't familiar with. And Lanson's deadline was still twenty-three days in the future. There was no need for a dash.

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