Menagerie, On Automatic


Watching her ship break slowly break apart, the brief flare of fire and electricity, the smaller pieces flaking off and floating away, before the larger pieces cracked and finally snapped separating from the remains was frustratingly beautiful. As she drifted farther away, beauty became simply frustrating.

An hour earlier, another day on patrol over Ison VII. Her job, ensure traffic flowed smoothly, any distress calls were answered quickly, and keep an eye out for raiders. Not that traffic did not flow smoothly due to the automatic navigation controls. Not that anyone ever found themselves in distress on the way in or out of Ison VII. Not that raiders had attacked in over three years. Nothing ever happened and Amiri was fine with that.

Everyday, wedge herself into the cockpit built for a bov, not a rhino, push a key for the same old patrol route she was always assigned and sit back for her shift. Boring. Boring was predictable. If the cockpit had room for anything other than her she would have brought something to occupy herself. She knew most of her fellow pilots took hobbies on patrol with them. Just thinking of WhiteTip reading her books on her back in her spacious cockpit made Amiri jealous.

Reaching into a cargo pocket she pulled out her latest attempt to counter the long boredom, a portable hologame console. Gingerly setting the unit on the top of the dash, Amiri gently pushed the power button with a large toe. Immediately the cockpit lit up as the company logo accompanied by the three note jingle filled the cabin. Amiri smiled as the console successfully connected with the datastream her home screen appearing in front of her.

Amiri laughed when her favorite game character, a little monkey appeared on the tip of her horn. She pulled the menu of games down and spent a few minutes deciding which to play. Off to her right, a large pachyderm tender floated by on automatic navigation; she paid the tender no mind, the automatic routes ensured near misses, but no collisions. Inspired by the “near miss,” Amiri touched the icon for her favorite platform game, Simon Simian.

Totally engaged, Amiri guided Simon the Simian with some success through various levels for the forty-five minutes. Nothing broke her concentration, not the blinking commlight. Not the insistent tone of an urgent call. Not the more insistent tone of non-standard traffic.

The bright flower of an explosion outside her window, caught her attention a second after Simon disappeared without warning when her console lost connection.

“What the hell,” Amiri shouted.

A knife edged ship flew through the explosion, blasters firing, impacts seconds later. Her patrol ship shook and rattled. Warning lights flashed. Her beloved console crashed to the floor. Confused and panicked comms from all over the system filled her cockpit along with the warning tones and emergency tones.

Stabbing manual, Amiri engaged the engines in time to accidentally maneuver out of another attack pass by the knife edged ship, unfortunately not fast or well enough to avoid the follow-up attack. Her ship, automatically ejected the cockpit lifepod, shooting her away from the impending destruction and combat.

On automatic, the cockpit lifepod rolled over obscuring her view of the remains of her ship and accelerated for Ison VII below.



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