Second Colony

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Isaac swiveled in his chair, tossing a ball over his head. When the sphere reached the top of its arc, he grabbed it and slammed it against his console, "I'm bored."

"Isaac, focus on successfully landing this world ship."

The pilot sat up, turning away from his copilot and hefted it as his eyes narrowed. Isaac licked his lips while he glanced over his shoulder and chucked it at the woman sitting behind him. "Heads up, Jasmine."

She batted the incoming missile. "Can't you be serious? Where did these balls come from?"

Isaac's head turned, and he winked at Jasmine. "I'm capable of taking things seriously. However, given this ship's level of automation, there's nothing for me to do."

"Does that include landing?" Jasmine asked as her fingers made quotes in the air. "Or have you forgotten about the last colony ship you piloted?"

"We walked away from that one." Isaac grabbed another sphere off the ground and squeezed the plushy ball while he tapped his monitor. Isaac's torso twisted when a beep filled the cabin. After studying his screen, his scowl deepened. "That alert is the ship's way of letting us know we're approaching the atmosphere."

"Shouldn't you stop playing with your toys?"

Isaac leaned against the chair and tossed the sphere toward the ceiling. After catching it, he spun around and rested his chin against the plushy ball. "Why? This tub is taking the joy out of flying between planets."

"And why's that?"

He chucked the ball back to the roof and let it tumble to the floor. "The autopilot has kept things from becoming interesting."

With a scoff, Jasmine moistened her dry lips as her forehead dropped into her palm. "Of course, you'd appreciate a near-death experience." Her mouth curled into a scowl as she twisted toward him, "You need to get your head examined."

"And you don't have a sense of humor." Isaac bent over his chair, plucked a few spheres off the floor, and started juggling, "Take satisfaction in doing things correctly."

"You're in no position to tell me that."

As Isaac guided the balls' journey, he shifted his attention to Jasmine. "If it weren't for Olyver grounding me after Solora's rough landing, I'd have a job that would require pride."

"What did you think he'd do?"

The spheres continued flying while his face contorted. "You can't expect much from a weasel like that, but I hoped Quinn wouldn't have agreed with Olyver. I should be on Escort One piloting it through the stars."

"Hah!" Jasmine clapped her hands as her laughter intensified. "You're sore that you aren't wandering through space."

The balls tumbled to the ground, and Isaac spun his chair around as another beep tore through the cockpit. He bit his lips and returned to his primary display and gripped the controls. With a few tweaks, the tension in his face melted away while he adjusted the ship's trajectory. "Yeah, this landing will lack any character."

"Does that mean we'll safely touch down this time?"

Isaac scowled as his head twisted. His eyes narrowed as he blindly groped for the balls littering the floor about his chair. "Rubbing that fact in my nose is unnecessary."

"What?" Jasmine's hand flew to her forehead as she opened her mouth and rubbed her temples. "Did my desire for safety offend you?"

The moment his fingertips touched a ball, Isaac snatched it and flung the soft orb at her.

"Ow!" Jasmine's fingers dropped to her nose and fiddled with it. "Why'd you do that?"

Isaac ignored her question and turned to his console. With a series of adjustments, the ship tilted, and flames appeared around the windshield. He clasped his hands behind his back and leaned into the chair. "I'm sorry for throwing that at you, I figured you'd block it."

"I'll be fine."

"Unfortunately, the engineers did their jobs and fixed all the bugs that made things exciting last time."

"You sound disappointed."

Isaac lifted his fingers, wiggling them. "I am a pilot who's watching this flying city descend upon that moon by itself. Yes, I'm upset. I should be in the next system, exploring the worlds out there. If you were in my boots, wouldn't you be annoyed by the assignment?"

Jasmine leaned across her console and grinned. "Maybe, but you'll go down in the history books with your accomplishment."

"That happened the moment the last city-ship touched down on Solora." Isaac picked up another ball, bouncing it on his palm. "Nobody remembers the second entry in history. Besides, it's not like I'm doing anything, the computer is in complete control."

Jasmine's head slumped back as she watched the flames die away from the edges of her periphery. "Stop whining, and pay attention to the ship, we've entered the lower atmosphere." As she sat up, Jasmine's chin sank into her hands, "How long till we land?"

Isaac's fingers flipped a series of switches on his console, and he studied the readout. "The Vodona will settle down in the landing zone within a minute, give or take. You should alert the crew so they can prepare."

"I assume the moment this bucket lands, you're racing for the platform."

Isaac stared at the ball in his fingers as he positioned it between her head and his eye. Isaac tossed the orb up and clutched it into his fist, "It's not worth beaning you again. Inform everyone about our imminent arrival."

With a heavy sigh, Jasmine switched on the comms. "We'll be touching down momentarily, prepare for landing." She deactivated the comm system and scratched under her chin. "Why do we carry anyone?"

"What?"

"I mean, the platforms are activated the moment we land, couldn't colonists come aboard then?"

Isaac focused on the readout and scowled as the ship adjusted its course. As the colony ship's engines died, Isaac turned away from the console clenching his fists. "That's a topic to discuss with the triumvirs. Let's use the platform and press Quinn for a proper assignment."


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