Fleet Indian

"I just don't get it," the new navigator said. "He's just sitting there. Fleets Hellene and Persia are already on station, Roma is less than five hours out despite the Tiber falling behind. We have the farthest to go, and we're drifting while he sleeps!"

Captain White studied his pipe. "Nobody understands scouts, son, but Vogel there is the best in the Navy. He sees through hyperspace like nobody's business. He's why we got the farthest assignment."

Part of Runs With The Wind's mind was following the conversation, but it was pushed to the side. Eight thousand light years was the farthest he'd ever been from Earth, and it got harder and harder to commune with the ancestors.

It didn't help that the steam and isolation of the sweat lodge that normally facilitated the journey had to be supplied by his imagination.

After what seemed like hours, a dot in the distance expanded into a hawk, his power animal. It flew low past him; he turned to see it alight on the bent arm of his grandfather. With minimal conversation, they took in the majestic desert panorama together. After a few minutes, Grandfather passed the bird to him and slowly walked away, disappearing around the mesa before them. He smoothed the bird's tail feathers, stood, and crossed the control room in a few swift, long strides.

Looking far away through the forward window rather than at the console, he turned the knobs until he was satisfied, and said "You are free to navigate. ETA 26 minutes."

The navigator's "That's impossible!" almost drowned out the executive officer saying "Iowa acknowledged; Iroquois acknowledged. That's everyone, Captain."

The captain watched with a wan smile as Vogel left the bridge; he gestured to the stars and ordered "Engage!"