B01.007 – Prepping for Flight

Okal Rel Saga. Pilot Ann of Rire thinks about jump hallucinations. Artist: Jeff Doten.

Ann’s jump hallucinations tend to feature aquatic scenes and creatures. She wonders what the Killing Jump will be like for her. Art by Jeff Doten.

En route to the docks, the next day, Ann was itching to ask Thomas about how he experienced the jump but knew it was a pilot superstition not to ask. To her, jumps were like plunging through water, sometimes churned by angry currents, sometimes packed with playful dolphins out to get her lost. Thomas’ impressions would be his own.

“You checked out my roster entry last night,” Thomas remarked. “What put you off?”

“Apart from it being you?” Ann asked tartly, and walked on.

“The record says you’ve got a high libido,” Thomas went straight to the point.

“But discriminating,” said Ann.

He lifted a hand and waggled it side to side.

“Looked up all my relationships too, huh?” she asked.

“That what you call your one night stands?”

“The answer is still no,” said Ann. Thomas looked exactly like what she didn’t want to imagine as a pilot’s future: prematurely old at twenty-five with signs of palsy in his hands.

“When we’re in that jump together,” he predicted, “you’ll appreciate my finer points.”

To make it through the jump Ann knew she had to surrender herself to his guidance. Some pilots even claimed they could sense each other’s feelings through the gap dimensions when their wakes merged, but Ann never had.

At the station’s zero-G hub, Ann enjoyed watching a handler fail to convince Thomas to put on a pearly white flight suit. Thomas preferred his embroidered vest, insisting it was good luck. He also refused to let them put an arbiter persona on his ship. He was still flying the ship he had stolen when he turned renegade, and he had painstakingly overhauled it to rely on algorithmic software alone.

“I let you put a persona in there,” Thomas told the handler, “and it won’t be my ship anymore. Besides, no arbiter nav-persona is going to make it whole through the Killing Jump. No AI has the grip for it.”

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About Lynda Williams

Educational technologist, teacher of applied tech, publisher at Reality Skimming Press, author of the Okal Rel SF series.
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