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[M - G03] Speedy Owl

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Location: G03 - New California

Tags: Spaceship, land vehicle, spying, piracy.

Chapter 18: Speedy Owl


Flight Engineer Elliana Seyka was in her element. The Forwarder had not misled them about the ship; it was in good condition, even though the flight-hours had put the expected wear and tear on it. The starboard engine coolant system had all but fallen off due to some failed parts, some of the sensor equipment mounted on the dorsal beam had been lost altogether, as had the ladder to the access hatch. She obviously hadn’t been maintained for a while. But these problems were all fixable... “She’ll fly.” Ellie had told Yseult and Riddaeon with a fun smile on her face. “Needs a bit of work... But she’ll fly.” So for the next few days Ellie had done what she does best and the moment of truth was near.




She had fixed the coolant system first. It was the most difficult of the jobs that needed doing but she was reluctant to test the engine until they had more fuel. That, it turned out, The Forwarder could have explained better. The T-420 B had been drained long ago and fuel was not only not in the price, it wasn’t even an extra. They were out in the middle of nowhere and the nearby fuel reservoir was also empty. Ellie had wondered how it might have ended up out here, a hastily built platform and no leads to the fuel tank. Yseult had told her the owner was probably hiding it. Octan had spread so quickly; could locals really be blamed for wanting to keep what was so precious to them away from the gaze of a mighty corporation. So here it sat, somewhere deep in the Northern Andreas flats where the ‘seasonal lakes’ of New California amounted to vast areas of ground seepage that turned it a muddy grey.




A plume of dust harked the approach of a vehicle. Yseult’s attention was drawn as soon as it became more than undefinable haze. Both she and Ellie were atop the ship’s central beam connecting replacements parts for the long-range navigation array. She tapped Ellie and pointed to the horizon.




Ellie raised her vidoculars, it took a moment to locate and focus the approaching object... “A speeder.” She announced. “Some kind of van...” She lowered the device an looked at Yseult... “Octan colours.” A moment later they were both clambering down the rear of the ship onto the gantry Ellie had constructed. Once on the ground, they both moved round to the front and watched the approaching vehicle using the platform and overhanging front of the ship as cover. Two minutes later the van was  clearly visible without electronic aids. What was it doing out here? They were so remote, surely, it could not be a coincidence. A minute more and than van was cruising slowly up to the ship. It turned and parked nearby, the hiss and whine of the hover system powering down interrupted only by the occasional gusts of wind. After a few moments, the rear door lifted and a man emerged.




The tension in Ysult’s shoulders released with a tingle as she recognised Riddaeon beneath the green cap of the Octan uniform he was wearing. Both women stepped out and headed towards him as he began unloading first a large hose, then canisters in clear Octan colours.




“You could have told us.” Yseult proposed. “Lucky for you we don’t have a rocket launcher. No?” She added.

    “I had to disable all communications.” Riddaeon responded. “I couldn’t secure a way to buy the fuel we need so...” He pulled the last canister from the van. “... I improvised.” The two canisters of fuel and two of antimatter weren’t much but it would be enough, unladen, to get them to Forring and friendlier surroundings.

    “We should leave quickly.” Riddaeon announced as he helped Ellie with the long hose-like fuel feed he’d brought. “There’s a MANTIS ship in orbit. It’s put Octan orbital control on alert and we don’t want to still be here if reinforcements arrive.”




It took a couple of hours to add the fuels and run a full systems check. Ellie left the last part to Yseult who raced through every reading and indicator with inherent pilot instinct. This wasn’t a military ship, it was a crate, a bucket with engines, a box runner. Ellie was in the ops chair viewing the engine management system. With two lift engines, four drive engines in two types and various manoeuvring outlets, it was unusually complicated for such a small freighter but once she realised it worked more like a hover-crane, she soon had a handle on the systems. With the two multi-layered centrifuges spooled, Yseult pressed the ignition and after a few worrying sparks, they burst to life.

    “L-one, L-two flow is steady.” Yseult announced.

    “Check... Drive engines primed.” Ellie responded.

    “We’ll just use the front drives until we break atmo. It will be slower but use a lot less fuel.” Yseult said. Ellie worked her console.

    “Fuel gates configured.” She said after a moment. “Ready for drive engine start.”




Outside the ship Riddaeon stood by the van and watched for any external signs of problems. He was no engineer but better that than just an onlooker, he thought. In a flare of light, the two forward drive engines ignited, then settled to their idle flow-rate. Then, with a creek of metal joints that had been stood still too long, the weight on the landing gear eased and the ship slowly raised up, the rear first but not by much and shortly thereafter the front, the small incline moving the ship gently forwards off the platform. The nose was soon climbing though and as power to the drive engines was increased, a left-banking climb was entered. Soon after, it was gone. Riddaeon looked around the rudimentary platform and noticed the sensor dish. He climbed up on to the platform and brought the system on-line. A mechanic he wasn’t but a spy... That was different. And so too perhaps was the previous owner. Their security did not take long to bypass. Octan’s would have been harder but the work had already been done and soon, he was into New California’s orbital network grid. Communications, ship positions, it was all here, but not what he was looking for. He removed a small device from his pocket and held it close to the computer. A blinking light on it soon went solid and the word ‘UPLOADING’ appeared on the screen. Once completed, Riddaeon deactivated the system and taking one last look around, casually returned to the van, closed the door, started the engines and drove away.





Landing Platform with fuel reserve and transceiver array.


Speedy Owl on the platform.


Interplanetary Freight Systems T-420 B 'Speedy Owl'.

Compatible with shipping container


Pins on the container's clamps push into the frame on the ship.


Clamped into position, the container is secure. The roof section of the container is specifically designed to distribute the strain and ensure that the container doesn't shear apart under the load of its own weight.


Main drive engines and steering veins.


Steering veins hinge out for drag in atmospheric flight but maintain their use in space through the mounted thrusters.

The Speedy Owl got its name from it looking like and owl from the back.


The engine coolant system ensures maximum performance over prolonged periods.


The aft module incorporates the main engine intakes, rear lift engine, main fuel and anti-matter tanks.


The navigation cluster contains instrumentation for short and long range navigation data including terrain mapping and GATE drive systems.


The auxiliary array contains both navigational and communications secondary systems.


Access hatch, forward drive and lift engines.


Primary long and short range communications array under the nose.


So I had a minor 'arrangement issue' during the photoshoot:


But at least it let me take some infernal shots.


Beneath the cockpit.


Side sections for body contour and front engine placement.


Pilot and engineer's seats.


Top of the side-stud section on the forward engines allowing seamless positioning of the top panelling.


... Typical. I'm sure I'll figure out where they go.




Judges: The hover-van is a variant of the one used previously. The changes are cosmetic - I leave it to you to decide if it's enough to satisfy the tag. Container not to be judged.


Thank you everyone for reading. This ship has been tweaked and adjusted a lot during its life and I am now so very pleased to present the final version.


Edited by LucByard
photo update.

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On 12/19/2016 at 5:52 AM, StarHawk3 said:

Great ship. It has some great detail. I can't wait to see more pictures of it.

Thanks. I do love this one. I hope the extra picture give you a good insight into the design.

8 hours ago, Umbra-Manis said:

Awesome ship Luc! Awaiting the next chapter!

Thank you. While Upsilon has set a longer arc in motion, this chapter also brings to an end Yseult's opening arc as she has gone from being found on Marphacia to being back in the pilot seat of a freighter. While the last three chapters have lead directly into the next, I feel very open-ended now so I'm going to throw some ideas around and see where it goes. : )

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