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Tunie was a big girl.

Pylo loved her but her hallways went on and on.

She had holds and crannies that had to be checked, inspected and the cargo ensured it was not being damaged by transit.

There were holds that could be pressurised.

There were holds that stored water and other liquids.

There were holds that held Tunie’s personal store of foodstuffs, ready and waiting to be digested.

There was the hold for the fungible grist in various readily exchangeable forms.

Holds that were kept even more utterly empty of anything then the pleasant vacuum outside.

Holds with heaving sloshing masses of goods that Pylo should have secured better but no one really minded. None of them were scheduled as deliverables by anyone, they were just loose trade to offer up when the demand was there.

It’s not like any of them were massive enough to hurt Tunie unless she had to do a hard maneuver. And to be fair they would be suffering from a bulkhead crumpling before these piles of things could injure Pylo’s friend.

And for all the rest of the time Tunie was a gentle girl and accelerated softly.

Just one of the many things Pylo loved about her friend.

“Dry goods, Grain and Special Care packages secure and uncompromised. That’s the last of the terran shipment right?”

[​IMG]“▃▂↹”

“Yes I know I’ll check it again after each manuvere. Just like the handling instructions said, super careful, do not puncture, do not jostle, do not subject to acceleration exceeding Dunk times the acceleration of Terra. Do not exceed or drop below the following temperature range, yada yada yada... Honestly who bothers to ship something so fragile?”

“▄◵█”

“Oh yeah? Did we ever find out what was in that box? It was REALLY heavy”

“▁▂▁”

“We should check back that way and see if anyone ever found out or something”

“▁”

“Spoilsport”

Moving on from the shipping holds the terrans had paid for Pylo made her way around to one of the conduits joining up with Tunie’s eyes.

It was important to check to make sure there wasn't anything getting into these sensitive fibres. Tunie kept most of her nervous system situated behind each eye. And an infection or injury here could really debilitate or disorient her.

There hadn't been anything close to serious harm done to Tunie’s eyes since Pylo first got full position as “Ship Guide and Minder” but she had heard horror stories of vessels loosing track of memory or even failing to understand concepts when grievous injury or infection had destroyed eyes in the past.

Pylo didn't quite understand it personally. She didn't have anything like eyes herself. She felt and tasted light and color along her skin. It made it harder for her to get a ‘wide vista’ like most people could or how Tunie was able to ‘reach’ her vision out across huge swaths of the reef and the boggling distances involved. But whenever Pylo needed to know or see something like that she could just listen to them experience it. She honestly thought the things seemed awfully fragile and delicate for the so called benefits.

Although not quite as much with Tunie.

Something bigger than Pylo herself many times over could not survive acceleration if it was fragile.

She could not deny the vista she could taste boiling into her friend’s eyes. It was more quality in mere sight then Pylo could fit in her entire body.

A Wondrous tool of sensation but also so fragile.

The fact her friend suffered from such acute vulnerability and specialization made Pylo very nervous and she always made sure to check every single eye node for damage or disease several times during each transit.

“This one’s clear and healthy!”

Up and down tunie’s hallways Pylo went.

Then settling into her personal little chamber to rest and recuperate while they drifted along.

After that up and about once again. Check to make sure there were not any of the little tubey motiles lost anywhere.

Sniff and lick for sign of infestations or parasites.

Go over the cargo again, Terran manifest and general trade goods.

Then a detour over Tunie’s drive chambers.

The vibration here was intense, every brush with a supporting arch or bulkhead was buzzing so hard it stung. The feeling of heat and exotic flashes of light stung randomly.

But this was also Tunie’s most vital chambers and the place that strain and wear accumulated the worst.

Even the outer ablative barbs of her feathers generally were only lightly strained by travel unless they had to weather unexpected clouds of detritus or go particularly fast.

But the drive chambers, those were always pulling and tugging her about. Except when She was extending the feathers out to brake against the aether with some wonder of Ship physiology Pylo could only vaguely understand the mechanism of the drive was where all the mass of her large friend ultimately met the push of their acceleration.

And although motiles and even specialized sessile elements constantly worked to maintain and repair fracture lines there was still the occasional spot which Tunie’s Immuno-maintenance system missed for too long.

So Pylo checked on her friend.

“I think this bit right here might need a ossiplast sweep... There’s some faults starting to form”

Tunie’s contented confirmation was enough to move on.

Beyond sheer structural strain there was also the metabolic drain of the drives.

Pylo checked to see there was plenty of motiles full and plump with restorative nutrients at the designated caches for emergencies.

That the vast buzzing arteries were at pressure.

That those lines which were empty had not suffered any weakenings or decay from lack of use so that her friend could depend on the auxiliary circulatory systems when needed or in case of injury.

She checked on pumps, valves, filtration systems and various digestive stages of Tunie’s metabolism and associated stored fats and high energy density crystal lattices.

“Hmmm, we should get you a Titanium supplement, I’m not liking the way your reserves look... And probably Drexla 17 and 4 some of your Motiles seem lethargic and your reserves are going a little off color”

“⎌◍ ◹⑆◴ ▃▂▁◬”

“Well the Terrans didn't even know what Drexla Vitalloys were and you were having to run constant burn so I wasn't going to do a census of their entire agricultural industry to find out where to get it. Just go easy on stuff till we can get them circulating properly”

“◬”

“Yea I know, but it was an outreach... they will be a lot better setup next time we swing around”

Tunie in general liked and appreciates outreaches after a fashion, it was encouraging to her to help cultivate new trade routes. But sometimes the tedium and annoyance of early stage trade partners made her grumbly when it lead to some metabolic deficiency.

Pylo didn't really know what it was like, her species made all its own Drexla Vitalloys and Vitamins on its own. But it would kill her to try and supply even the tiniest portions of Tunie’s requirements.

Another rest and another shift of work checking over and taking care of her friend during the long haul between ports.

This time it was for external and dermal maintenance checks. Pylo grabbed the feather comb with one aft limb and set off.

First she slipped into the highly pressurised dermal layer with its endless columns of shock absorbing springs and the sensitive and vital nodes situated at the roots of the feathers.

These were encysted in anchoring and cushioning and pumped with thick cabling of nutrient supply to maintain the exotic properties of the feathers in the exterior and how they could grasp and cling to the weft of the immaterial aether.

Pylo began spiraling through the dermal chambers.

Starting for convenience at foremost prow of Tunie’s hull and working slowly and meticulously to the aft most point.

It took several shifts to accomplish a full inspection. But so far none of the feather roots were crying for relief from tangled or damaged barbs.

Pylo took her rest shifts inside the hyper pressurized dermal gel during this part of her inspections. It was uncomfortable but it more than halved the time to finish going over the entirety of Tunie’s Dermal surface area.

When she finally reached the aftmost point she slipped free and gave Tunie the bad news.

“Sorry no brushing in transit this time. Your feathers are fine”

The grumbly hiccup in the drive system slammed pylo into a bulkhead good naturedly.

“Yeah I know, but I’m not going to risk getting a speck of dust blowing up my side if you don’t need it Tunie. I promise I’ll go over some of your primaries when we get to port.”

There was not an answer to that but Pylo figured that Tunie would just have to wait for her brushies this time.

Even at the relatively lethargic speed they were going being hit in the face with a speck of dust was still awful and would put Pylo on recuperative rest until she grew it back.

Never again.

No matter how much Tunie loved her brushies.

No more in transit feather combing unless absolutely necessary.

Even if Tunie made that chirp chirp chirping song like an infant.

No matter how cute.

No leisure brushies in transit!

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Morgan J Heacock
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