Penny leaned in towards the camera some more. “So what’cha callin’ for Dylan? Official Ranger business is supposed to be run through Seera.”
Sundance smiled slyly. “Well you know me girlfriend. I trust that glowing pixie as far as I can throw her little digital behind. No I heard through the grapevine that a certain Ex-ranger had holed up on a particularly unpleasant periphery rock and was leading the local resistance there.”
Penny’s composure remained largely the same, but Wu saw her hands on the console snap into fists.
“Who’d you hear this from?”
“Ranger Wayne just rotated out of duty in the Pantheon of Saints. When I caught up with him he said the Black Mask Society have been making a major push in that area. Especially on St. Aloysius.”
Wu perked up at that. “Aloysius? The locals there hate us almost as much as the Feds.”
“That would be the first thing that caught my attention yes.” Sundance replied. “I dug into it a little and it wasn’t long before I found this:”
A still image appeared in the corner of the screen. It was blurry from movement but the resolution brought out the details in the black ranger armour clear as day.
He’d even left his name tag on.
“Rodgers.” Penny muttered.
“I figured you’d want first dibs on this. But with your perp in tow I guess…”
“No.” Penny said suddenly. “He’s mine. I’ll put in a course for Aloysius and head out there immediately.”
“Really?” Wu asked, one eyebrow raised. “What about me?”
Sundance tipped his hat to Penny. “You do what you gotta do Ranger. I’m just passing on your intel like you asked. Sundance out.”
Penny saluted the camera. “Thank you Dylan. Dreadful out.”
And with that the screen returned to the progress bar, which reported that the scan was complete.
Wu rounded on Penny. “What the hell Ranger? You won’t go against your orders when a life is on the line but this is okay?”
Penny grabbed the collar of his jacket and pulled his face up to hers. “You know damn well I said if you could give me anything on Rodgers I’d have let you go back on Ernutet. Now I know he’s on Aloysius, I am NOT letting him get away again.”
Penny released him and Wu returned to his seat. He shook his head at her. “Typical fed. Your needs come before anyone else. What about Hae Lee? You think she’ll be happy you’re keeping this ship for however long you want?”
Penny summoned a vid-window displaying the navigation data in her augmented vision. Without so much as a sidewards glance she said. “If it means more time to spend with you, Hae Lee would let me take this thing on a round-trip of the whole spiral arm. If you want me to give her this ‘nudge’ of yours you’ll sit tight and keep the whining to yourself.”
Wu seethed quietly, his jaw clenched. But he pushed away from the pilot’s console before he did anything he would regret.
“Good.” Penny said, then she put enough emphasis on her next words that Wu knew she was putting a new command into his collar. “Stay in that chair.”
Sure enough, Wu heard the collar ping to indicate it had received the new command.
Penny turned back to the console, made herself comfortable in her chair and turned her attention towards her own Headspace.
When Penny opened her eyes again she was standing in a field of sunflowers.
She’s modelled her personal Headspace after the fields out the back of her parent’s property on Bast.
Being surrounded by the places she used to run and play through for hours as a kid never failed to calm her.
But right now Penny had work to do.
“Summon Seera.” Penny commanded the air.
There was a flash of light beside her and Seera’s feminine form appeared in a glowing outline of electric blue.
“Good day Ranger Dreadful, how may I help you?”
“I need you to relay a message to Ranger High Command.”
Seera nodded. “Go ahead.”
“I believe I’m being followed by the Black Mask Society, who are likely attempting to retrieve their companion. I have considered my options and I believe my best course of action will be to Run Silent for the next little while. At least until I can lose them.”
“Are you sure Ranger?” Seera said, not a hint of suspicion in her voice. “Would you prefer we coordinated with the navy for additional protection?”
“We’re too far away from any naval vessels in the immediate area. I need to go quiet and drop out of sight for a while. Maybe take a long detour, see if I can shake them off.”
“If you believe that is wise Ranger, I will pass that on.”
“I believe it is essential.”
Seera nodded again. “Very well Ranger Dreadful. I will pass this on to Captain Harrison for you. Be advised that you will only be granted three weeks of silent running, after which you must report in to Ranger High Command with your exact location and the current status of your mission. Failure to do so will result in disciplinary charges being laid against you.”
Penny nodded back to her. “I’m well aware of the risks.”
“Understood. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“No Seera.” Penny saluted. “That will be all.”
“Then good luck, Ranger.”