As Sass opened her mobile screen cases, and began to run the necessary hard connections between the units, Ciaran stood back and watched. He wasn’t alone in the audience; the somewhat-cramped hanger structure built onto the back of the two-storey-tall Headquarters building had windows on each level, and a balcony on the top floor –– theoretically a place where the high-ranking humans inside could stand and participate in conversations with the Saa who were using the space.
That meant quite a few eyes were taking in the sight as Sass fired up her monitors, and then looked to her son, “Can you put up the sensor pod?”
Ciaran didn’t hesitate before nodding; almost instantly he had the necessary nondescript silver box in hand, and was hurrying out into the sunlight to prop it up on the building’s roof.
More eyes followed him as he did this, and he was aware of the attention –– not just from the men of ‘B’ Company, who obviously saw dragons a lot, but from the local soldiers who were milling around, and from some people in buildings surrounding the parade ground.
But as he turned back to the shed, and stood up on his back legs as high as he could go, he detected a problem. A serious problem. Looking around quickly as he realized the difficulty, he saw that he was indeed the focus of a great deal of attention –– sort of hard to miss, being a nearly-three-year-old dragon –– and everyone seemed to expect him to be decisive, effective and handsome.
Well, maybe two out of three –– decisiveness was overrated.
Nevertheless, his problem was serious, so he hissed to himself, “No problem. Nothing unusual going on here. Just going back inside.”
Demonstrating again its uncanny aptitude, Ciaran’s collar translated those hisses to English as though they were said through gritted teeth, and under his breath, so as he returned to the shed with the sensor unit in hand, he was able to do so mostly nonchalantly.
No need to sow panic.
“Um, mom,” he called casually to his mother, but Sass was too busy with her screen activations to look back.
“All set?” she asked easily, and Ciaran made a noise that was –– somehow –– translated into him clearing his throat. The translation technology was basically one step away from pure magic.
“Not exactly. Slight, um, problem.”
Sass perked up as she heard that, and she turned instantly towards her son, crossing the small hanger to him and lowering her voice.
Closing one eye and rotating his head awkwardly, the young dragon dropped his volume as well, “The roof slopes up.”
With the Saa version of a frown forming on her face, Sass rotated her head and tried to imagine why that could be a problem. The sensor unit had grav points that could basically lock onto any surface, and it wasn’t too heavy to be supported by a timber roof…
Seeing his mom had missed the obvious, Ciaran lowered his voice even more, “I’m not tall enough. And after all the money we had to spend on Cappy’s new car, I didn’t want to try stepping on anything.”
Sass blinked slowly, which was almost entertaining, and then her head bobbed involuntarily from side to side at her son’s covert words. Of course, not yet being fully grown, the young dragon was smaller than his mother –– not tall enough to reach the very top of the roof. She hadn’t even thought of that, because obviously there were bigger concerns.
“Sorry,” she stopped her Saa-chuckling after a moment, then reached out for the sensor pod. “I’ve got it.”
Ciaran turned his palm up as his mother took the device, then leaned closer to her, “But if anyone asks, it’s not because I wasn’t tall enough.”
“Of course not. You just thought it’d be better for me to put it up, so that it would be less obvious on the roof,” Sass defended her son’s decision in the way any good mother would, and then she touched the side of her head to the side of his head before advancing towards the open end of the hanger… and stopping.
Halting just short of the daylight, with the sensor unit in her hand, she appeared from behind to suddenly be entertaining heavy thoughts, and Ciaran didn’t miss the weight that seemed to settle upon his mother’s back.
“What’s wrong?” he asked quietly, though he didn’t get a response right away.
Because Sass was beginning to wonder how obvious the sensor pod actually would be, once installed and activated. On its own, the small silver device was somewhat easy to see, but far more noticeable (to an orbiting ship, at least) would be its active scanning beams. Nothing on the surface of the new world thus far gave off any emissions; all the sensor units were passive, which was part of the reason she knew so little about the visiting ship.
But that meant the visitor might not realize the Saa were present on the planet at all. And if it was the Scourge…
With such thoughts beginning to coalesce, Sass laid the sensor unit down on the floor and narrowed her eyes, “What else do wehave on this planet… just the passive sensor arrays in various towns.”
Recognizing his mother’s question was rhetorical and not directed at him, Ciaran simply turned his palm up, then stood aside as she walked past him to her portable control units.
“That’s all passive… they shouldn’t be able to detect it from orbit…” even as she was basically hissing to herself, her collar was translating her words again. Thus, any humans present would have been able to hear the next, rather important point: “If they’re Scourge, they may not know we’re here. And if they don’t…”
She turned back to her son as her words trailed off, and Ciaran got the distinct impression that he was meant to finish the sentence. Unfortunately, he was still just two-and-a-half, and he wasn’t his genius sister.
“Something-something-something-technical, and dramatic music cue?” he tried his best, and apparently not listening to his exact words, Sass nodded.
Ciaran rotated his head and decided to wait until his mom tried to explain to others what was going on. Then he’d be all-in.