Amanpreet settled herself into the navigator’s chair as Kyla sat herself on the floor beside it.
“So,” she said after a moment. “You have two navigators in your crew? That suggests you don’t enjoy navigating.”
Amanpreet looked up from her pre-jump checks and nodded. “Not really,” she admitted. “I mean I’m good at it, but it’s not what I want to do with my life. I guess you do?”
Kyla pulled a wry face and shook her head. “Not really to be honest, but it was the only way I was getting off Vaia since I’m not a Child. Could be worse though – it’s an interesting job, at least. I get to see parts of the galaxy before anyone else.”
“Are your crew Children of Masari?” Amanpreet asked as she finished her checks.
“Yes, they’re supposed to keep an eye on me. Doctor Parata and I had to sneak The Dreamsong away while they were on shore leave on Damkina to get here. They’re probably going to be in a lot of trouble and I’m going to need a new job. I don’t suppose you need another navigator?”
â€œWe’ll talk about that later.â€ Amanpreet tried to hide her interest. She could use someone with a small fast ship like Kyla’s but wasn’t sure she could afford another crewmember. â€œBut since you have your ship, you can surely get work as a courier or explorer.â€
â€œThat’s an idea,â€ Kyla said. â€œBut I wouldn’t know where to start.â€
â€œI’ll help,â€ Amanpreet said. â€œBut for now, we’re green across the board.â€ She opened the dome’s shield and spoke into the intercom. â€œPrepare for the jump to hyperspace in five, four, three, two, one… initiating jump.â€
The blackness of space gave way to the roiling, glowing chaos of hyperspace, but for once instead of seeking out the wells she needed for navigation, Amanpreet instead orientated the Whisper to where she knew Promise was just as the Fish began to sing.
â€œYes!â€ Kyla exclaimed before Amanpreet could ask. â€œI can hear it! This is amazing.â€
â€œIt is,â€ Amanpreet agreed. â€œIt’s so nice to know it was never a hallucination.â€
â€œYou can say that again,â€ Kyla agreed. â€œWe should try the second part of the experiment and see if we can hear each other without speaking. You try thinking at me first.â€
â€œUh.â€ Amanpreet thought for a moment then tried imagining she was pushing her thoughts at Kyla. Hello?
Kyla’s face remained impassive and after a moment she frowned. â€œDid you try?â€
â€œI did,â€ Amanpreet said. â€œI guess it didn’t work?â€
â€œSeems not,â€ Kyla said. â€œLet me try.â€ They sat in silence for several moments then she sighed. â€œI guess that didn’t work either.â€
â€œNo,â€ Amanpreet sighed. â€œWhat a pity–â€ she paused as Promise’s song washed past her again. â€œWait! Ok, I had an inspiration. Let’s see what you can make out of this.â€ She started singing her favourite song in her head, careful not to hum aloud. A moment later Kayla started humming the tune. â€œYes! You heard me.â€
â€œI did,â€ Kyla said. â€œBut it’s not words, just music.â€
â€œThat’s interesting,â€ Amanpreet said. â€œI was singing the words in my head.â€
â€œI couldn’t hear them then,â€ Kyla said thoughtfully. â€œI wonder why we can hear music.â€
â€œThat’s something to investigate,â€ Haetara said over the intercom. â€œWe also need to discover the range of this ability. But for now we should get to Aletheia before the Vaians realise where Kyla was heading and try to stop us. They must have realised she’s absconded by now.â€
â€œThat sounds like a plan,â€ Amanpreet said. â€œI’ll drop us back into normal space so Kane can take over and then we can discuss this over dinner while we’re in transit. Who’s on galley duty tonight?â€
â€œI am,â€ Vanna said. â€œI’ve expanded the menu a bit, since we have guests aboard.â€
When Vanna said she’d expanded the menu â€œa bit,â€ she apparently meant she’d cooked a full on banquet from the number of plates and bowls spread over the table in the mess room. It all smelled delicious. Plus, Vanna was a devout Theravada Buddhist, so Amanpreet knew it would all be vegetarian. She grabbed a spoon and dug into the nearest bowl of rice before piling red curry on top of it.
â€œOh! This looks wonderful!â€ Kyla exclaimed. â€œWe don’t have a galley on the Dreamsong so we have to make do with self-heating ration packs. They’re okay but they get boring after a while.â€
â€œI’d imagine they would,â€ Vanna had changed out of her engineer’s coveralls into a rich blue dress in a cut that was especially popular in parts of Earth at the moment. It suited her gold skin particularly well.
â€œThey do,â€ Kyla said. â€œThank you for cooking this.â€ She tilted her head. â€œYou’re from Earth, aren’t you?â€
Vanna nodded. â€œI was actually born in the Luna 4 moonbase but I grew up in Cambodia.â€
Kyla hummed to herself. â€œThat’s in Asia right? They don’t teach us much about Earth on Vaia even though we come from there.â€
â€œIt is,â€ Vanna said. â€œAnd it sounds like you’re well off out of there.â€ She turned to Amanpreet. â€œYou really should hire her, Am, and her ship. I like her and we could do with a fast courier sometimes.â€
â€œI know,â€ Amanpreet said. â€œI’m thinking about it, but I need to check the finances first. I’ll do that once we get to Aletheia.â€