“All systems are a go, Captain,” Lt. Wolfy reported from her station.
Elyndra nodded, her normally smiling face a bit serious. “Then we need to get underway.”
Wolfy gave a sharp jerk of her head in acknowledgement as she began to bark orders to the bridge crew. They all scrambled to their stations. The tension hummed in the air. No one could ever have predicted what had happened. Timmy stole the MLS Baty! Was the bot a bit odd? Certainly. But they hadn’t seen this coming, certainly not.
“Is the signal still being transmitted?” Skybluefusion asked, frowning.
The crew member nodded. “Yes, ma’am. The signal reads loud and clear.”
Elyndra gave a brisk nod. “Take us out, helm!”
The MLS P.Bunny’s departure was made swiftly, her veteran crew bolstered by their new recruits. There was tension in the air, though some excitement too. For many, this was their first foray into space. They couldn’t be blamed. Even the veteran crew wasn’t immune to this. There was something very thrilling about setting off into deep space with only your ship, your fellow crew, and your wits (and the plot bunnies, of course). It was a test of endurance at times, that was for sure, but when the next discovery, the next plot bunny was right around the corner, it was more than worth it. It was true that this wasn’t a typical mission of exploration. They were going to hunt down Timmy and the MLS C. Baty. But that added a new facet to their mission, enhancing that tension- and yes, that thrill as well.
“Captain! Captain, the signal is coming from that Asteroid!” The helmsman almost jumped out of their seat in excitement.
Elyndra, looking ever calm, nodded. She turned to Wolfy and Sky. “Lt. Wolfy, Chief Sky? Take an away team with you. Investigate the asteroid. The ship could be hidden close by. Be careful. There’s no telling what Timmy is up to.”
“Of course Captain,” Sky said with a little bow of her head. In answer, Wolfy saluted and the two left to assemble their away team. They would take the shuttle to the surface of the asteroid to see if the bot had hidden the ship there.
As the shuttle descended to the surface, Wolfy, in a sleek, pressurized space suit, turned to the team. “Everyone stay close.” Her voice sounded clearly over their comm systems. “Keep your eyes open. Remember your drills. Just stay focused. We look out for one another, got it?” She waited until everyone acknowledged the instructions, then looked to Sky. “Chief? You take one group, I’ll take the other. We’ll split into two teams, do a reconnaissance run, then meet back here.”
“Understood, Wolfy. Happy Writing!”
“Happy Writing, Chief.” She reached up, grabbing a hold of the bar that ran along the ceiling as the shuttle slowed down as it’s landing gear opened up and it settled onto the surface of the asteroid.
The door opened horizontally, the bottom part becoming a ramp that the away team tentatively used to descend to the space rock’s surface, Wolfy and Sky in the lead. The two leaders nodded to one another and then using hand signals, they split the team and each took a different direction, their sensors out and their eyes peeled.
Skybluefusion smiled at her team through her helmet. “Ya never know what you’ll encounter in Writing. Don’t be afraid of it, but as Lt. Wolfy says, be as prepared as you can be and then improvise where you need to.”
The cadets followed after her, looking a tad nervously around them. The weighted boots of their space suits kept them all on the ground, rather than floating off into space. Sky examined the little device in her hand, carefully tracking the signal. It was definitely getting stronger! It kept increasing as the team progressed, until finally, Sky called a halt. They were right on top of the signal now! “Fan out! See if you can see the ship in the vicinity!” The asteroid was irregular in shape, with dips and valleys. Some of them might have been big enough to partially conceal the MLS C. Baty, though Sky had a sneaking suspicion that wasn’t the case.
The scanner in her hand gave a couple thrill beeps. Her brow furrowed and she looked at the device, giving it a shake, grumbling about the equipment. They were in a fairly big open space. They would have seen the ship if it were here! Still grumbling, she picked her head up and something caught her eye. “Over here!”
She and her group hurried over to the little black box that was lying, a bit crumpled, on the asteroid surface. It was the transponder alright. It was intact, though looked a bit worse for wear. Huffing out a breath into her helmet, the lens fogging up a bit, she brought her wrist up and activated her communicator. “Lt. Wolfy, Chief Sky here. We found the transponder. It seems to have been dropped here. We’ll bring it back with us, but I don’t think there’s anything else to find here.”
“Affirmative. We’ll come to you. Hold your position.”
“Got it, over and out.”
It didn’t take long for Wolfy and her cadets to find Sky and her group. The Lt. was wearing a frown as she looked at the transponder. “Back to square one,” she said with a sigh. “I’ll pick it up and we’ll take it back with us. Maybe a thorough examination will yield a clue.” She hefted it up. Though compact, it was pretty solid, though the zero gravity made it easier. As she lifted it up, Sky noticed something attached to it.
“Wolfy! Wait. Give me a sec.” Sky pulled what looked to be- an index card, off the outside of the casing. She blinked. “What do you make of this?”
Wolfy’s expression mirrored Sky. “Let’s get these both back to the Bunny and we’ll talk to the Captain.” So saying, she activated her own communicator. “Captain? We’ve found something. No, Timmy seems to have dumped the tracking beacon transponder. But he left us something else. We’re going to bring them both aboard, see if we can get any clue of his destination.”
Back on the ship, out of their suits, Wolfy and Sky stood with their Captain, looking down at the two items that had been set on a table in the conference room. “Is-is that… a business card?” Sky asked, breaking the silence.
“Yes, I believe it is,” Elyndra confirmed. “Wolfy?”
“Yes, Captain, it appears to be a business card.”
“Have the other ships been informed of this newest development?” Sky asked her Captain.
“Yes, I’ve communicated with the others. Seems we’re not the only ones to get an unusual message,” Elyndra answered. “The Ninja has received a message of their own, but from an alien species claiming to have seen Timmy.”
Sky frowned. “Aliens? Friendly?”
“They appear so. We’ll see. I have no doubt Witchy will have it in hand, either way.”
Sky nodded, going silent, deep in thought.