Alison took her swig and passed around the flask. She handed it to Danaya who was more than a little drunk. Drea and Jetsania giggled at her antics. Ruthie entered the cargo area with a perplexed look on her face. “We should be getting ready?”
“Ready for what,” Drea asked.
“Maria thinks were all going to be given flight DUTY.”
“You really think she’s serious?” Alison asked.
“Look, anything is possible.” Ruth said.
Jetsenia got up. “Maria has complete faith in us.”
“See, we don’t have a chance.” Danaya said.
They all turned to see Maria with exoskeleton legs struggling to move without help. “WHAT’S GOING ON?” Ruth went to help Maria.
Danaya hid the flask behind her back. Alison looked up at Jetsenia to say something.
“Just a pow wow,”
“I need all of you ready for airborne flights.”
“You heard the lady.”
“This is nuts.” Danaya cried. “We’re all going to die.”
“No one’s going to die.” Maria declared. “Not on my watch.” she went to leave, “Report in launch bay 2 at 400 hours.”
“They really want us to fly these ships?” Drea asked.
“They need pilots and the last time I looked you all were pilots.” Maria made herself clear. “This time they need all of us and they need us right now.” She walked out the room.
The others stood up quietly and stared at each other. Danaya started towards the door.
“Where the hell are you going?” Ruth yelled.
“To catch Maria, you know she’s right.”
Ruth smiled. “Sometimes she says the damnedest things.”
The lone ship flew high above the clouds leaving an exhaust trail seen for miles. Onboard the aircraft Drea Rodriguez studied her instruments and Wiggled around trying to get comfortable in the tight confines of her cockpit seat.
This flight had been her first in over two years since her trouble started. A mixed bag of emotions filled her head. Though she was harder on herself than anyone else was it felt great to finally be trusted enough to fly again.
Two hours into the flight, she had seen nothing but the wilderness of a barren desert planet. Two large continents sat on the sides of the planets polar region. Compared to the main content the two were practically uninhabitable. One more turn and Drea could stop for the day. She dropped the ship down to a lower altitude making her navigation more difficult. She was flying on adrenaline and the extra effort was more than welcome.
Something unexpected happened at 40 kilometers. Some-thing was causing interference with her ships navigation signal. It could easily be the result of atmospheric conditions but Drea had a gut feeling something more was going on. She turned from her flight plan to search for the source of the interference.
It didn’t take long to find. Several barren islands just off the coast of the main continent were innocent looking enough but something on them was giving off radiation strong enough to disrupt her navigation signal.
The first fly over revealed nothing but the interference was still there. Drea remembered her training well. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. This time she flew over using the full spectrum on her sensors. She would find out what was there soon enough when they analyzed the data.

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