Captain Gunter Fahrer demanded perfection, especially in piloting. Although my role on the Little Sister Ship was counsellor, I had other skills. Piloting a space craft was another specialty of mine. Piloting is much like flying a plane, especially these days where the computers do the bulk of the work. The ISF do have computer operators (Geoffrey Fox was one of them) strategically placed around the Earth, and solar system to monitor and navigate the craft’s progress. But, once past the solar rim and into deep space, the crew is on their own, and the on-board computer system takes over.
This is with the exception of manual over-drive, where operating the controls of the Little Sister Ship is much like driving a car, only you can go up and down. The ISF engineers designed their craft to be user-friendly and for anyone with a brain and commonsense to manage the job of piloting. Hey, did you know that in space you float and don’t have the bother of gravity. I love it! You can twirl round and round and still feel like you are facing up.
Anyway, back to co-piloting with grumpy guts. I’d put up with anything, even a pedantic Captain, to be piloting a craft in space; my dream not just to fly but to travel into outer space. I wanted to be an astronaut; especially after seeing fuzzy video footage of the moon landing on the television. The Star Trek and Battlestar series only fuelled my dream of hopping from star to star, boldly going where no Swiss girl had gone before. I wanted to discover new worlds and new life forms. As a keen reader of science fiction, when our family flew over the Bermuda Triangle I secretly hoped we would disappear into a parallel universe or alien mother ship. All my fantasies about space travel had come true, although I did object to wearing boiler suits. Could not the designers of space apparel design something more fitting and streamlined? And in Lycra? Why should cyclists get all the fashion fun?
Besides, I didn’t want to be employed by ISF only for my empathy abilities, swanning around the fleet, mending broken emotions, collecting mental forensic evidence, picking brains in endless sessions of ISF court, weeding out truth from the stack of lies and in the end being solely responsible to save or space a life.
While recovering from my injuries in Melbourne, Victoria, as part of my ISF training, I signed up for the piloting option. The ISF held piloting courses out at Moorabbin Airport under the guise of light aircraft flight training. As far as trainers went, I copped the booby prize, Admiral Sister Driver in the flesh, and generous portions of flesh, I might add. Since the Boris bomb disaster, she’d taken a shine to me, hovering over me like a helicopter surrogate mother. I suspect she hid a secret desire for me to join her religious order.
So, when it came to piloting skills, I had talent, flair and creativity. Sister Driver said so. I suspect now that she encouraged all her students with that line. I flew in space out of the box, using my lateral thinking to get me out of sticky situations. The way I operated a space craft was to get inside its mind, become one with the craft, and flow with it; easy since the Little Sister Ship employed Boris engineering and technology interfacing engine and navigation with mind control.
However, my unconventional and unpredictable approach to flying drove Fahrer to distraction, and his very presence drove me to distraction. I struggled to not look at him and not feel like jelly all over while at the same time teary. How could he treat me like that? Because he’s a German, I guess. No, too simple. When he was born, back in 1662, Germany didn’t exist. And where he was born, some town in what was then called Schwabia. So, were Seventeeth Century Schwabians so serious and fussy? Perhaps. His older brother Johann was this way. And his sister, Salome Driver was too. So, it is possible, then that this pedantic nature might be natural to the people of that region.
Reclining back in his leather-bound control seat, Fahrer shot the orders, ‘Go for it, Mueller. Let’s see what you can do.’
I stared at the monitor watching the swirling blue ball of Earth disappear and the blackness of space emerge.
‘Well, don’t just sit there!’ he goaded. ‘Use your initiative!’
With a nod, I did, accepting his challenge, word for serious word.
Using the solar winds and Earth’s electromagnetic fields, I slipped the ship to the dark side of the moon, and propelled the vessel, folding space time like origami, and jumping millions of kilometres in ten seconds. I wanted to dock with the Sister Ship this side of the asteroid belt as arranged, and I wanted to do it fast.
‘What—do you think—’ Captain Fahrer snapped out of his harness and snatched my control stick, ‘—you are doing?’ With one fluid movement he assumed command of the ship, like a father of an errant leaner driver, his hand gripping the handbrake as if his life depended on it.
‘Just bending the space-time continuum, a bit.’ My heart thrumming, I watched the moon shrink and vanish. ‘Got solar flares, big ones, might as well use them.’
‘So you want to get there early?’
‘What’s wrong with that? I thought you like to be on time, and assumed the earlier, you’d like it.’ I fiddled with my communication earpiece, what’s called a “Bluetooth”, now that my hands were free. ‘We can do some sight-seeing—I’ve never been to Mars.’
‘Mars?’ Fahrer thumped my control pad and made me jump. ‘You want to go to Mars? This is not a holiday, Miss Mueller. We don’t go on scenic tours of Mars!’
‘Not even if we have a few hours to spare?’ I checked my calculations. ‘I can get us to the Sister Ship on time.’
Sighing, Fahrer rubbed his eyebrows with his index finger and thumb. ‘Minna —I mean—Miss Mueller—’ he shook his head, ‘This is not the Swiss Alps. This is space and we are in a state of war, or haven’t you noticed.’
Did he just call me Minna? I chose to ignore his confusion and give him the benefit of a Freudian slip. ‘Then perhaps we can do a reconnaissance—you never know what Boris troops might be camped there. We’ll have the advantage.’
Fahrer clenched his fist. His voice remained low, but trembled. ‘As your captain, I forbid you to be early.’
‘Too late.’ A scarlet disk lined and pock-marked like a dried orange, appeared on screen.
‘We’re here.’ I tapped in the coordinates, activating the ISF-adapted Boris technology to whirr away scanning the surface.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018
Feature Photo: Paragliders from Summit of Hoch Blauen © L.M. Kling 2014
Curious to find out how this war with Boris all began? How this alien cockroach Boris wheedled his smelly way onto Earth…threatening humankind’s very existence?
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