It later turned out the girl’s name was Yori Exeter and her and Colin would spend most of their time locked in endless conflict and competition that played itself out as a cold war that frequently got scorching hot. Their chemistry was comparable to that of dropping potassium into a beaker of water, a thrilling sight to behold but you wouldn’t want to be to close to it. The year progressed despite their terrible teamwork they had managed to barely make it through leaving Colin, Vivek and Leah, the team leaders and they were all called to the academy head’s office.
The academy head officer was a grey old lady, spectacles and toothless smile plaques covered the walls, models of space ships were on every surface and framed pictures filled in any gaps.
“Come in, come in, ” she ushered them through the door, with them all in there it was feeling a bit like a sardine tin, “I’ve been going over your results.” She stopped and pushed up her glasses and eyed them all. “While you all seem to perform to an exemplary standard on individual assignments and individual year group assignments, your ability to perform as a team is, quite frankly, atrocious.” She laid a data tablet on the table and looked at them all again. “I see you two, in particular, are a source of near-endless troubles when you’re together, why can’t you just get along?”
“See, I try I really do, but she’s just such a maniac.” There was a sound of a sudden slam and tears weld up in Colin’s eyes as he tried not to scream in pain as Yori’s boot crushed his foot. Yori otherwise stayed silent, Vivek clenched his fists and toes in a desperate attempt to not laugh.
“This is what I mean, this isn’t school, we don’t separate naughty children! If you can’t all function as a team, you’ll have to be let go.” They all suddenly looked glum, looking at their feet and off into the distance. “And I’ll be clear I believe that would be a great loss to the corp, you’re all exemplary. You just need to learn how to function together. Oh and stop getting into fights with A team, they may be a bunch of wet blankets their families, however, do have clout.”
The group all looked at one another.
“So what’s are you going to do with us?” Colin looked around nervously.
“About half the board just want you gone but your representative lecturer put in a strong case and one that I don’t entirely disagree with. As such you’re going to be assigned to an out system training expedition, normally only the third years go on one whole year. Still, it’s been decided that you lot may only gel if given a real challenge.” She paused and looked at them again, They all looked suitable stunned, so she continued. “We’ll be sending you to system Lavar-227 there’s a ranger training base there, and you’ll have to deal with both a simple system survey and a planet survey. Note Lava-227 is a dangerous system just because we use it for training doesn’t mean it’s safe, and every few years we lose an adventurer or two out there.” She shrugged. “Those kinds of things come with the job.”
“W- When do we leave?” Colin was barely able to contain his excitement stuttered.
“Tomorrow night, you’ll be heading to the Solar General that’ll drop you off at Lava-227. Any other questions?”
They all shook their heads in unison.
“Very well, get out of here.” She shooed them out.
They were all silent for about thirty seconds as they walked away in shock, Yori broke the silence with an outburst, somewhere between a woop, a scream and a leap of joy. The others joined in as they leapt around, Vivek pulled a lone gunman pose firing his imaginary handguns into the sky, thrusting his pelvis as he did. Colin was almost stunned into silence as Yori having hugged everyone else in joy even leapt at him and squeezed him tight before pulling back and giving him a sour look.
“Arsehole,” she said, looking at him arms loosely held around his neck, his loose around her waist.
“I just can’t help myself sometimes, besides I think you broke my foot.” he scowled
“Good you deserve it” she returned the scowl, let go and then bounced away.
“Shit, I thought I was going to get kicked out, thank the gods if I had my mother would have beat me so hard my past, and future selves would all be black and blue!” Vivek laughed.
“Too true.” Leah had an energetic Yori attached to her for a moment, rambling away.
Case just smiled as she was buffeted by Yori and Leah.
“Who’d of known the way to real adventure was to fail so often that they get tired of you and send you out anyway!” Vivek was walking next to Colin, his arms crossed and a big smile across his face.
“Yeah, now we just have to make sure we don’t get killed” he patted Vivek on the shoulder.
As the group slowly passed through sections of the station back to their common room onlookers gave them disapproving stares and whispered to one another, fingers pointed. Bitter scowls spread like a wave of displeasure at the group of failures endless joviality. The group though didn’t care, they were going to leave the system.
Arriving at their common room, they sat around the scarred and battered table and looked at one another, they had a datapad of things they had to decide before they headed off the next evening.
“So, number one, whose captain?” Vivek asked, and then tapped a few things.
“Second in command?” Vivek continued to type.
“Comms, that’s me.”
“Wait, what are you doing?” Yori bounced not sure if she should explode or keep her calm.
“Just filling this in.”
“Isn’t it supposed to be a group decision?” Yori’s eyes grew wide, fingers digging into the table. Colin looked down at her hand and back at her.
“As if there are any decisions to make.” Leah shrugged and sat down.
“Prize goes to the girl with the impeccable sense of timing.” Vivek pointed towards Leah.
“Yeah.” Case backed the other two up, and Colin went with it.
“So, Colin is captain, Yori is second in command, I am comms, Leah is trauma, Case is tech.”
“I guess so. Shouldn’t one of you two be second in command” Yori looked conflicted.
“Please as if I can be bothered trying to mediate between the two of you it’s a pain enough as it is in normal exercises.” Leah leant back into the sofa and then looked at the two of them.
“Yeah, the two of you are better off just going at one another.” Vivek grinned as he said it. Colin gave him a dim look, Yori didn’t notice.
“Well with that all decided we should call it a day we’re finally off to adventure tomorrow!” Colin drummed his hands on the table, and Yori nodded, and they all bounced off to their rooms.
The next day they left Home station and Melara behind on a shuttle destined to join up with the jump ship Solar General, most of the trip there was a standard routine of taking system status readings, practising drills and on occasion manning ship functions but given that they were in the system and Home was only hours away it was little more than keeping someone’s seat warm. Yori and Colin managed to maintain a civil truce, and all five of them were in the cockpit of the scout ship for when the Solar General could first be shown on the view screens at reasonable detail. Colin had seen one before, even had a tour in both his first and second years, but this was the first time he’d experience a jump. He looked at his team members, and they all had similar looks on their own faces, which made him smile again as the Star General got larger and larger on the view screens.
The ship was long, and thing, tanks of propellant and reactor mass were placed on the outer hull, a massive solar sail was held open by a retractable web of nano threads and intricate arms that were used to expand and retract the sails like rigging and masts you see in holo sims set in a long-gone era of ancient Tera. There was a large set of coils that split the ship into two parts the rear held the sails, and a massive fusion reactor, reaction surfaces for propulsion, the rings were part of an electromagnetic shielding system forward of them were the life support, battery, communication, living, command and accommodation systems. The ship was huge, and every moment they got closer it got all the larger, less than ten thousand kilometres near her, there were the vast habitats of the outer system coalition a group of a dozen O’Neil cylinder nations that had decided to leave the inner system for a serene retreat out here on the edge. The sun itself was little more than a large star in the infinite reaches of space, small blips and flashes danced around the system, and Colin glanced back at Yori who had a look of giddy wonder on her face.
“We’ll be docking in about an hour if you lot want to get anything ready beforehand.” The pilot said, stood up and headed out of the cockpit. They didn’t go anywhere.
Docking in the colossal jump ship reminded him of Gateway station, in a lot of ways jump ships had a lot in common with station habitats, they were like smaller more interstellar capable children of the stations.