Chapter 7

Sy walked to the end of the service catwalk that ran beside the black and yellow jaeger's conn-pod. "And this," he said, knowing there was just a hint of pride in his voice, "is Sun Streaker."

The new technician stared up at the jaeger, taking in his cooling vents and the gleaming blue of his freshly-repaired conn-pod view screen. "Wow," she said, sounding slightly winded. Sy wasn't sure whether her breathlessness was from how awestruck she was by Sun Streaker, or from all the stairs they had climbed to get up to the catwalk. "He's even more impressive in person." She glanced at Sy and smiled. "I always thought he was one of the more attractive designs."

Sy tilted his head slightly, listening. Then he said, "Sun Streaker says to tell you 'thank you,' and that it's nice to meet you, Marissa." With a grin, he leaned closer to her and stage-whispered, "But watch the compliments. You'll give him a bigger head than he has already!"

Marissa stared at Sy for a moment, then looked over at the jaeger with wide eyes. "He can hear us?" she asked.

"Yup!" Sy led her to the end of the catwalk where they could see the activity on the floor of the Shatterdome. He tapped his earpiece. "I can hear him on this. If we went inside his conn-pod you could talk with him yourself, but I figured you'd want to be out here for this." He jerked his thumb over his shoulder.

She nodded and looked across the dome. "Absolutely," she said quietly. On the far side, the new experimental jaeger was being raised up into its maintenance bay. "Magnificent, isn't he? And he looks even better in the air."

Sy had to admit that the new jaeger was striking, especially since its design was unlike any other that had come before it. It was broader at the shoulders and hips than Sun Streaker, but had the same long legs and arms. However, the most distinctive feature it had were the two triangular wings attached to its back. The wings were painted in the same blue as the rest of its body, but outlined in red stripes.

It looked absolutely massive, larger even than some of the larger cargo planes that Sy had seen. It seemed impossible that it was capable of flight. "I'm looking forward to seeing him fly. I have to admit that it doesn't seem like he'd be that agile in the air," Sy said.

The technician turned and fixed an odd look on Sy. "He's very powerful right now, but it's hard to pilot him with any kind of finesse," she said. "The expectation is that once he becomes more independent, he'll be a force to be reckoned with. His avionics have the capability for incredible precision, but the reaction times needed to take full advantage of his abilities are beyond what a human can do." She looked back at the blue jaeger. "I hope I can achieve the same sort of thing with Thunder Cracker that you did with Sun Streaker."

"To be perfectly honest, I don't know what I can show you," Sy said. When Marissa looked at him in surprise, he shrugged. "I don't know exactly what I did, except talk to him like he was a person, I guess. Let him listen to me. Answered his questions when he started talking back. Treating him like a friend." Sy glanced at the black and yellow conn-pod behind them. "They think that's what did it, eventually."

Marissa laughed. "I talk to my car all the time, so I suppose I'll just start doing the same thing here."

Sy leaned on the railing next to her. "So the commander said they sent you with a full crew?" When Marissa nodded, he added, "You're already off to a better start than Sun Streaker was. They shipped him here because we'd just lost Cosmic Panther, and they knew we had a crew available." He turned to look up at Sun Streaker's recently repaired view screen. "Then again, I think we lucked out getting Jack. He's been nothing short of a miracle worker."

"We've got a pretty good group," Marissa said. "Our Chief is a little prickly, but once you get to know him, Hook's not too bad."

"Hook?" Sy held up his hand, curling his fingers into a curve. "Like the pirate?"

Marissa laughed. "Exactly. He's just as cheerful, too." She thought for a moment. "I... don't actually know what his first name is. Everyone just calls him Hook," she said with a shrug.

After they watched the activity across the dome for a few more minutes, Marissa said, "I think I'd better get down there. They'll start doing post-transport checks pretty soon. Thanks for showing me around, Sy."

"Any time," Sy said. He waved as she turned to go. "We can get started tomorrow morning."

"Looking forward to it!" Marissa said, and turned to go. She paused in front of Sun Streaker and said, a little awkwardly, "It was very nice to meet you too, Sun Streaker." She glanced at Sy, who gave her a thumbs up, and then she made her way to the stairs.

Sy waited until she disappeared around the end of the catwalk, then turned back to watch the crews settle Thunder Cracker into his maintenance bay.

In his ear, Sun Streaker said, "She seems nice."

Sy lifted his eyebrows, then nodded. "Yeah, she does."

"You should ask her out." When Sy sputtered, Sun Streaker added, "That is what humans do to someone they like, right?"

"Well, yeah," Sy said, turning to face the jaeger. "But she's not really my type."

"I thought you had a thing for brunettes," said Sun Streaker.

"No fair stealing things out of my head," Sy said. He thought of Courtney, and the disaster of their breakup. "And I used to have a thing for brunettes... But I don't anymore, not really."

"What is your type, then?" Sun Streaker sounded genuinely curious.

Smiling across at the conn-pod, Sy said, "Oh, you know... Tall, dark, handsome, and armed with a plasma cannon."

The sound that came over the earpiece could only have been described as an actual laugh. He knew it was probably just another remnant of their Drift, in which Sun Streaker picked up mannerisms from Sy, but this laugh wasn't anything like Sy's quick, light laugh. The laugh that the jaeger uttered was low, deep, and filled with genuine humour.

As Sy stared at the jaeger in surprise, Sun Streaker said, "I like you, too, Sy." Before Sy could say anything, Sun Streaker added, "I guess that means I have a thing for red heads."

A/N: The end! Thank you so much for reading, and thank you for the reviews and feedback. I appreciate every single one I receive.