Space: Part 2

The Heroes’ League “Jet”

We were in space and flying toward Lagrange point four, specifically to the Xiniti space station that guards the jump gate.

I was flying the jet—which wasn’t really a jet, but was actually a spaceship that we referred to as a jet and mostly used as a jet.

Imagine a dashboard full of glowing readouts and a window above it that showed glowing pinpricks of light that were mostly stars except that I knew some of them were galaxies. Off the top of my head, I couldn’t say which was which, but the spaceship’s AI could if I wanted.

I didn’t at that moment.

From behind me, Marcus asked, “Why am I along, again?”

Reflected in the windshield, Marcus pulled his stylus away from his tablet. Brown skinned with black hair, he wore his green  “Shift” costume, newly configured for space travel.

Leaning back in his chair at the weapons console next to mine, Lee said, “Because the Xiniti are into family. Don’t worry about it.”

Alone among us, Lee wore normal clothing—blue jeans, a leather jacket, and t-shirt advertising his martial arts studio.

“Hey,” Marcus said,” I’m not worried. I’m just wondering. I’m not sure I deserve to be here.”

From the next row back, Jaclyn said, “Which leads to the question of why I’m here. Marcus is related to me, but I didn’t kill the Xiniti.”

“Or the sheriff or the deputy,” Marcus added.

“Easy,” Cassie said. “You’re being given credit for an assist. Nick and I couldn’t have hit that guy if you hadn’t taken him on first.”

“It’s nice to know Xiniti culture runs on rules similar to basketball,” Jaclyn said.

“And similar to South Pacific islanders,” I said. “Daniel mentioned that there’s a tribe that did something similar to the Xiniti. Basically if you killed someone in their tribe, you became part of the tribe. I don’t remember which tribe it was, but you can see the utility. I’m sure there must have been conditions, but if you do it right, you’d get connections with tribes all around you.”

“That makes sense,” Jaclyn said. “If they’re really going for connections, I can see why they might not be fussy about who technically killed the guy.”

“Might be,” I said, “but there’s more to it than that here. Lee was telling me about the Xiniti’s sense of honor. Somehow completing a task they’d been assigned to leaves them in your debt. I’m not sure how that works or how it helps, but it’s in there somewhere.”

Jaclyn sighed. “It looks like we might find out exactly how… Lee did you say this counts toward Stapledon credits?”

Lee turned back to face her. “They do. Stapledon requires you to get in a few hours in space, alternate universes, Faerie… Right now everyone’s feeling a little leery about visiting Faerie or Infinity City, so until then we’ll probably be taking people up to the jumpgate or maybe visiting the USS Jay or USS Kay. You’ll probably fulfill all of yours before you’re back.”

“Good,” Jaclyn said. “It’s not that going into space and visiting aliens isn’t amazing, but after everything that happened at Stapledon last year, I was hoping I’d just be able to do school there this summer. Except now it’s May again and not only am I not at Stapledon, but I’m flying away from the planet.”

Still turning around in his chair, Lee said, “If it makes you feel any better, the Xiniti asked for you specifically. They requested video of the Xiniti’s death if we had it and once they’d seen it, they demanded that you be included.”

Jaclyn sighed again. “Huh.”

“Which brings it back to me again,” Marcus said. “I’m here because I’m part of Jaclyn’s family?”

Lee shook his head. “You’re here because I’ve seen the kind of tests new Xiniti get and I knew they’d need more people. If we brought Haley, we’d have to deal with Xiniti dating customs. If we brought Daniel, we’d have to deal with anti-psionic laws. With Vaughn, we’d be stuck on a spaceship with a guy who flings lightning… You’re the best choice. The Xiniti will accept bringing a relative, and you’ve got a power set that ought to work well in space. Okay?”

“There you go,” Marcus said. “You just gave me a straight answer. How hard was that?”

Lee turned around to sit in his seat. “Don’t expect it again any time soon.”

Conversation lapsed then and I turned on the music. Sounds of 70s pop filled the cabin.

A few songs in, Jaclyn asked, “Are we listening to the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack?”

19 thoughts on “Space: Part 2”

  1. “With Vaughn, we’d be stuck on a spaceship with a guy who flings lightning”

    Yeah… probably not the best choice. Although I can’t help but wonder if his air manipulation is strong enough to prevent or at least slow down decompression due to a hull breach.

  2. Now I’m really curious about Xiniti dating customs and what they entail, and how complicated they are that Lee wanted to just avoid them.

    1. When I saw your comment, my first thought was, “Wait, did I do something that would require me to figure out the Xiniti calendar and possibly their number system?”

      Then I read it again and remembered what I’d written.

      For what it’s worth, they don’t have the same male/female gender binary we do. Thus, things don’t quite work.

  3. The jet had interior cameras in the 70’s, right? Because I have a funny mental image of the original heroes league, after seventy hours of enduring BS and saving the world, having a sleep-deprived air-guitar-and-sing-along session on the way home, to the tune of spirit in the sky.

    Remember, they’re in colorful spandex-alike, and they’re swaying back and forth in time with the music.

    Please put that video in the story sometime.

  4. Interesting implication here, in choosing Marcus. Because Rachel is related to Nick. So Lee must figure that having shapeshifting along is somehow more important than not being seen at all. (Something about deception? Or is there a danger that Rachel would end up floating through a wall into space?)

    Of course, it could also be to give the younger Marcus more experience/screen time, what with Rachel having already had a whole arc devoted to her. Guess I just like seeing more of her. 😉 Clever topical reference at the end there, btw.

  5. “Are we just listening to the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack?”

    I loved that ending, but I think it would be a cleaner sentence if you removed ‘just.’

    1. The Xiniti are a genderless species most of the time. Except sometimes they take on whatever gender is needed by their bonded group (which is essentially a group marriage). Combine that with the fact that humans are always gendered and generally have marriages that only include two people, and things will get complicated and distracting at a level that would be a pain to deal with when you want to get other things done as well.

      As for anti-psi laws, you’ll get a bit of that over the course of the story.

  6. “Because the Xiniti are into family. Don’t worry about it.”

    And not a peep from Psycho Gecko. He really did leave, huh? How sad.

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