IT WAS STANDARD OPERATING procedure for Sapphirans to include a flora peda telepathis onboard for any jaunts through space. After all, there was no love lost between Thyron's species and human beings so the pygmies' cannibalistic lifestyle didn't bother them in the slightest. Furthermore, galactic law granted every species the right to defend itself and its position within the food chain. Invading other planets, of course, was another situation entirely, but Thyron marginalized it sufficiently to ignore.
Space travel represented the ultimate synergy between vegemals and the subhuman race with whom they shared a planet, described by his fellows as a bonding experience extraordinaire. Sapphirans enjoyed excellent eye-hand coordination courtesy of their weapons expertise, necessary for hunting the massive slugs, worms and occasional insects they consumed as part of their carnivorous lifestyle. Previously they'd learned to ride massive dragonflies until they'd realized they were much more palatable than slugs, after which they'd hunted them to extinction.
While the pygmies' flying experience was easily transferred to piloting a spacecraft, their limited mental capacity precluded any ability for repairs or choosing a destination via the navigation system. Thyron's ancestors had investigated that first ill-fated craft and discerned every detail of how it worked and eventually repaired it, introducing the Sapphiran's to space travel. This followed its natural course and eventually led to hunting human prey on other worlds.
This, of course, violated a plethora of treaties and agreements between civilized worlds, but while galactic authorities had plenty of suspicions, they lacked sufficient evidence to do anything more than suspect the Sapphirans' unfriendly agenda. Thus the Hostii Intergalactic Organization, commonly known as the HIO, directed its energies elsewhere. If their planet were more hospitable, it probably would have been colonized, but that was exactly what caused Carnelia to be in a constant state of war as other depleted planets sought its resources.
Having a willing pool of master mechanics who didn't object to off-world travel much less their rather gorey mission statement was already a spacefaring individual's dream, but it got even better. In addition to their engineering abilities the flora peda telepathis could perceive photons of all frequencies in a single omni-directional, multi-dimensional sweep. This assured the renegade space travelers avoidance of real-time hazards such as gamma ray bursts, stars going nova, cosmic rays or conversely the absence of light indicative of blackholes to say nothing of radar detection.
As Thyron and a crew of six natives readied for their journey, he was duly surprised by what awaited them on the ship. He was the only one who appreciated the fact the humans had named the spacecraft Cerulean Nimrod, which translated to Blue Hunter, something that had no meaning whatsoever to the illiterate Sapphirans who didn't even have a spoken language. He explored the flight deck with its colorful array of lights, though Thyron derived information relative to the ship's status directly from emissions from the avionics bay. A detailed set of procedures for executing their contract liabilities was embedded as a checklist on the ship's roster, including instructions for activating the return trip. A locker opposite the view screen contained environmental suits properly sized for Sapphirans as well as a cache of simple weapons.
He paused, once more contemplating the risks. Without instructions the Sapphirans wouldn't have a clue, making him even more culpable for any dastardly deeds. An herbaceous blast of deja-vu jolted through him of awaiting vistas and fated encounters for which his progeny would forever thank him. Thus, with a verdant sigh he let the ominous promptings go, informed the crew to secure themselves for takeoff and initiated the launch sequence. Moments later Sapphira receded to a dot and disappeared, the vastness of space and innumerable stars before them.
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