“Raika?” Radim repeated. “You named your ship after the asteroid that nearly decimated our planet?”
Tandan shifted his weight onto his remaining left foot. “Sometimes the heritage you carry means you need a big name.”
Radim narrowed his eyes. “Are you talking about yourself now or the ship?”
Tandan smiled back at him. “I already have the big name to match my heritage, Raika never had that, but she’s got a history I’ll tell you that.”
Lady Mitch had spent the past few moments gazing out the window, inspecting the wing above their heads. “You mention that Raika came from a time before the asteroid hit, but there isn’t much in the way of history books documenting that time. Although there is enough to determine that she is some form of older aircraft.”
“Correct.” Tandan smiled. “She belonged to one of the core members of team Ogni-Ratha, even before they joined forces, that’s part of the reason that you would have had a difficult time spotting me on your radar, not only is she small and narrow, but her first owner had stealth materials built into her frame.”
“So how did you come across her?” Lady Mitch leant forwards slightly.
“She was stored in a bunker underground before the asteroid hit, actually the same bunker that Mackiavelli and high lady Andli were stored in, and I discovered and removed her from there, and converted her for space travel so I could visit the stations.”
“How could you have left the stations to find her? No shuttle goes that far.” Stana let her confusion show.
“Not all people are born upon the stations my dear.” Tandan shook his head. “In fact a lot of people were left behind when the stations moved into orbit.”
“I wasn’t taught about that.” Lady Mitch protested. “I was always taught that everyone boarded.”
“I’m afraid it’s not that simple, in fact most of those who boarded the stations were New Earthians, very few Gaelithians were collected, and those that were, were treated with discontent and most hoarded onto Nimura.” Tandan sighed. “My Gaelithian heritage meant I was left behind, but once I found Raika I was able to come and see them, and even ferry some people over as well.”
“You mean you brought people over to the stations illegally?” Lady Mitch made no effort to hide her disdain.
Tandan gave her a sideways look. “You know for a station leader who is determined to fight for her people, you have an odd way of expressing that love to people who live even worse lives than those on Nimura.”
Lady Mitch frowned. “I didn’t even know that anyone even existed outside of the stations until you rescued us, so forgive me for not just dropping my entire worldview in a manner of seconds.”
Stana’s eyes widened as she sensed the approaching conflict, and jumped in. “Why did you save us?” All three eyes turned to face her, but none said anything. “I mean, I know how you did, you followed them for months, but why? What do you gain from it?”
Tandan looked at the three of them slowly, gauging their expressions, before responding. “I gain allies.”
“What do you need allies for? You live outside the system?” Lady Mitch tilted her head as she looked at him.
Tandan frowned. “Why do you think? To make the all important changes. Don’t forget what I said before, I’ve been spying on the meetings for years, and there are only two members of the Committee who fully understand what their position means, and you are one of them.”
Lady Mitch looked up at him solemnly. “But I can do nothing, if you’ve been observing you know how WES works, it has to be a unanimous vote, and I’m not going to get all of them behind me.”
Tandan shook his head. “You don’t need all of them.” He began walking towards the cockpit. “The most recent vote was to change from unanimous to majority correct, that vote must go ahead for the livelihood of the stations to improve.”
“How does that work?” Lady Mitch countered. “Allowing the majority vote to go ahead will allow them to further alter the rules to better their own causes, stations like Nimura will suffer.”
Tandan stopped and turned to face them all again. “The best of rules are made under compromise, and I know from my research that there has been almost none of that in a long time.”
“But but how do I get people behind me?” Lady Mitch protested.
Tandan let a smile show in the corner of his mouth. “When people know that there is another option, the way they vote changes. Besides, you already have people behind you.”
Lady Mitch’s eyes narrowed. “I do?”
“What am I, invisible?” Radim frowned. “I’ve always backed you Elora.”
Lady Mitch turned, shocked at hearing him say her first name. “Radim?” she spoke softly.
Radim stood, smiling in the process. “I’m Radim Spurling, and I’m behind you all the way.”
Stana quickly followed suit. “I’m Stana Prithrauck, and I’m glad to have met a station leader I can back, I’m behind you Elora.”
All three eyes turned to face Tandan. Who smirked in response. “I’m not announcing myself that way.” He rapped his knuckles against the ceiling of his ship again. “But Raika and I support you completely.” He turned and approached the cockpit again. “But you need to meet more of your supporters, and then, once we’ve done that, we will work on the Committee members.”
“But where are they?” Lady Mitch questioned.
“Where we are going.” Tandan was now stood in the cockpit. “Earth.”
“We’re going to Earth?” Radim stepped forwards, a mix of emotions spreading across his face.
“Yes.” Tandan smiled. “Now I would suggest sitting and strapping in, as we are about to lose gravity.”
The three exchanged quick glances, before rapidly strapping themselves into the seats.
Satisfied, Tandan steadied himself, and stretched up, flicking a switch on the controls.
Immediately, unseen to all of them, the three grappling magnets on the underside of Raika detached, launching the former aircraft away from the station and into the vastness of space.
Inside, Tandan quickly took advantage of the change in gravity to hoist himself into his pilot’s seat, powered up the engines, and turned the little ship to face the blue planet of Earth.
As the ship was manoeuvring itself, the inner flooring rotated round 180 degrees, until all the seats were level with each other.
Tandan looked back over his shoulder. “Let’s go.” and, without waiting for confirmation, pushed his throttles forward. The two inner engines lit up powerfully, launching the shuttle forwards, its destination clear.
So Raika and Tandan have a history it seems.