Note: Image associated is from Ironage.media, specifically their prompt, 'The Co-Pilot'
"Hey, Oliver, you're new Co-Pilot arrived this morning. Here's her resume; from it, I doubt she'll need much instruction, but of course, company policy dictates she needs 500 hours before they'll test her for her full pilot." Patrick greeted his old mentor, Oliver Swenham, one of the original 13 pilots who genuinely flew through space rather than the centuries-old tactic of throwing something off-planet fast enough to make a collision trajectory with the intended target.
"More new pilots by the day, and we can barely get 2 to stay and teach in 6 years." Oliver shook his head as he slowly woke on this, uh, morning? on XBC-49, nicknamed Eagle's Erie, a nod to its origin as a North American Astral Union project. Funded by the North American Federation that arose following the Great Resource War of Old Earth, its nearest star was wont to act like Sol in an eternal arctic summer night and left Eagle's Erie in perpetual twilight. Perfect for starship flight training, but it played hell on one's sleep habits. "Graduated at 14, Honours student, 4 years at college for a Bachelor's and Master's? And she wants to run Intra-system freight? Thanks, Pat." Oliver said as his old trainee handed him his cup of coffee, smelling it first, "Martian coffee? Budget review's coming then, bloody hell." He guzzled the cup down as he realized another 'year' had slipped him by. Frontier time, some had started calling it. Relative-to-Earth was the official term; the reality of keeping consistent time across star systems was proving to be a particularly difficult civilizational bugbear. "See you in a few, Pat; try not to burn anything down, eh?"
He heard a light chuckle as he left the reception desk, leaving his new student's file in his locker as he donned his flight suit. Company files were fantastically thorough, but Oliver preferred to be of no opinion on new pilots, always reading their files after their initial flight. He wasn't sure if his reasons were a slight chafing at protocol or just his experience saying paper can't tell you how a person will react to the nigh-infinite hazards of space-flight. His older style suit slipped on easy as old boots, instantly at home in the thick material. He'd call it fabric, save it really wasn't just fabric. Temperature regulating Envirosealed Atomica Manufacture, or TEAM, was still the leading technology in spacesuits, with patented atomic zippers that were seamless, virtually indestructible, and impervious to vacuum, all while using the electrical systems heat to keep the wearer warm even in only 100 K, or -170 Celsius/-280 Fahrenheit depending on which units a system or business preferred to use. Form-fitting with just enough give to not hinder mobility, wearing it was instantly Oliver's favourite part of the job. Powering the in-skin computer and checking his suit digitally, and well, digitally, he chuckled to himself, running the onboard diagnostics and checking with his hands to feel if anything was out of place. Both came back negative for any faults or oddities.
Satisfied, he keyed his helmet to cover him before approaching the airlock, turning on its Obscuration setting, the outside becoming opaque and automatically distorting his voice. The display confirmed both were active as he entered the airlock, closing the door to the locker room before the hiss of air came through, and the other door automatically opened as the pressures became equal. As he turned to his left to head over to the ship, his display had highlighted her for him and was already scanning her, even over the few hundred feet between them. Only sheer habit kept him walking, though, as he locked eyes on his student, feeling his jaw drop straight to his feet as his eyes tuned out the autogenerating report on the ship as they focused on Her. She had to be a gene-kid. Or one of the luckiest humans to ever live. Her resume said brains, drive, and perhaps a ruthless ambition, but her body screamed out to every base instinct and drop of testosterone in Oliver. This woman belonged on Holozines, Stage productions, the Holos or the Movies of yester-centuries. Hair red as blood, hazel almond-shaped eyes, and finely arched brows, her mouth just slightly too small for her face, the only asset among her many that could be called small for her. And her easy posture and choice of invisipanels in her TEAM said she knew damn well just how stunning she was.
And especially with all that, he couldn't fathom why she'd want a job running freight. However, he had to admit choosing to work a job where those looks weren't a direct advantage suggested she was interested in proving herself on merits. A promising start, he supposed.
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