The first week went smoothly. They worked together on their assignments during lunch and then over the com system. By the end of the week Cynthia had to explain to her parents that she need to spend more time working in person. They agreed and she had up to four hours past the last class to come home. It would give her the time she needed to work with Daniel on their studies.
The extra time also meant she didn't need to run out so quick. During chemistry she told Daniel that they weren't totally happy but when she said it would affect her studies they agreed. "Mister Miller," Professor Kingston called as he walked over to their station. "I looked over the idea you had. I believe it's a good one for the project and though I agree with you that it would be difficult, I believe that it is possible to do. I have spoken to your other professors.
They reviewed the outline you gave me and they agree it is very elaborate. However, they would like to see if you could accomplish it and each have agreed to accept it for their courses. We will arrange for what you need and offer assistance where possible to help. Have you discussed it with Miss Prieto?" Daniel looked at the professor and could feel Cynthia looking at him.
" No professor he hasn't mentioned any ideas other than the ones you listed. "I didn't because I thought it over and believe it's to risky. There are to many things can go wrong. If it just affected me and my grade I could accept it, but it doesn't." he looked at professor Kingston. " Thank you professor, but I think I wasted your time. I'm just going to file it away maybe somewhere in the future it will be more suitable." "MM perhaps," the professor glanced at the tablet he had in his hand and pressed a few keys on the screen before setting it down, not on Daniel's desk but Cynthia's.
Daniel reached over to grab it but Cynthia was quicker. It took her a few minutes to look it all over but her grin got wider and wider the more she read. "You really think its doable Professor?" "It will take more than a little extra work but yes, it could be done if the effort was put in." "Cynthia, no," Daniel growled. "Pay no attention to Mister Grumpy over there Professor, we'll do it with your approval." "I'm looking forward to the results as are the rest of your professors, and the Dean." Professor Kingston laughed and went to his desk to start the lecture.
Daniel moaned. "Forget it, it was dumb to think about it." "Too late, it's done can't back out now. Don't think you are getting off the hook to explain how it is it took you less than a week to come up with it but didn't mention it at all." "I didn't mention it because I never intended it to be a class project," Daniel mumbled as he tabbed his book tablet to the current chapter.
He had already read it but like reviewing it while hearing the professor's and other student's comments. It helped him retain things and made him think about it more. "Well it is a project now, and it looked interesting. More than anything on the list did. Come on what is the worst that could happen," she looked at him sideways as she tried to listen to both him and the Professor. "Mister Miller perhaps you or Miss Prieto would answer the question," Professor Kingston interjected before Daniel could answer Cynthia.
"The original theory for the periodic table was James Dalton. His theory was that atoms of different elements could be distinguished by their weights.
He was right but his calculations were not. He based his calculations on the science of the early 1800s. He figured that a base compound of two elements would have a one to one ratio of the elements in the combination." Daniel said barely looking at the desk. "Yes, now if you and Miss Prieto will refrain from conversing I can go more into detail." "Sorry Professor," they said simultaneously getting a few laughs from the class.
Professor Kingston smiled as well but continued. Daniel and Cynthia finished the lab assignment with half an hour to spare.
To Cynthia dismay, Daniel went to talk to Professor Kingston again. He was insistent that they back out before it was to late. "Mister Miller, you have some good valid reasons but I have a feeling that you're not saying the one that is most on your mind. I assure you that you will have everything you are asking for.
You came up with the idea we are giving you the opportunity to take it to the next level. So why is it that you don't wish to try," Professor Kingston asked as he walked around checking on the progress of the others. "Yeah Daniel why don't you want to try," Cynthia chided bumping into his shoulder.
Daniel glared at her a moment and shook his head. "It might not work. The number of components could make it to hard keep going. It all needs to work. And then there's the loss of resources if it does. If it was just on me then I would say so be it. However, I will not be responsible for you failing everything because of something I thought up and didn't think through entirely." She hit him again "We fail dummy, we are partners after all. You seem to forget that." Professor Kingston watched them.
"Mister Miller I am going to deny your request. I also want you to think this from a scientific viewpoint. If you don't understand, I suggest rereading the first section of your book. Tomorrow before class, I want you to tell me what conclusions you develop. As for the project, as Miss Prieto has said, you and here are partners.
This is where you will start to work as such." Professor Kingston walked away ending the topic for the day. Daniel glanced at Cynthia and scowled. He quickly grabbed his stuff and headed for the door.
Cynthia was behind him but didn't say a word. The rest of the day had every professor taking time to discuss the project and saying the same thing Professor Kingston had. None of them were letting him back out. Daniel looked at Cynthia as she was heading off toward the shuttle launch.
"I hope your parents don't have any issues with you spending all that extra time here. Between this and other studies we have to do, four hours may not be enough. There may be times we have to go well into the night." "It's related to school and if all else fails you can come over and explain your plans to them. They will be so dumbfounded and not understand a thing of it and figure it will take hours to do." "Yeah if I had them all figured out." Daniel looked at her thinking they were in over their head.
He had only given Professor Kingston a rough draft. There were no details of how it was to be done. Even the design layout was simplistic. He hoped that wasn't why they thought it could be done. It was only going to get complicated. It was then Cynthia realized that Daniel had walked with her to shuttle. "Going somewhere?" "Yes and no," he smiled a little but the concern was still in his face. They both turned at the sound of his name.
The Captain of the shuttle walked up to him and shook his hand. "Daniel, glad you got my message. Since your here I take it your accepting the offer." "Yes sir, I really like the idea and it seems a fair trade off." "Is this lovely lady your choice of a copilot," he asked looking at Cynthia and then back at Daniel who looked confused.
"She's my school partner. She just takes this shuttle back home most days," he replied. "Oh I see, and does she have a name?" Daniel looked at Captain Simms and opened his mouth to answer then closed it again thinking of the response. "Yes, Daniel don't be rude," Cynthia whispered and a moment of clarity hit Daniels mind.
"Sorry Captain, long day in school. Cynthia Prieto, Captain Sims." Captain Sims laughed. "I remember those days even though they were so long ago. I think most men would be a little hazy dealing with school and having a beautiful female partner to stare at all day.
Perhaps she would like to join you in this venture as well. After all it would be better to work with someone you are already comfortable with." "No Captain, I can't impose on her. Her role ends with the school and I'm sure she has better things to do than spend more time with me. Besides, I have yet figured out where this falls in my academic career." "Well, I'll explain that in due time.
However, we could offer the same opportunity to your partner. Perhaps some of the benefits would be useful to her as well. If she's shuttling back and forth I'm sure she would love the savings it brings." "Hello, I'm standing right here," Cynthia, reminded them, "Savings? What savings?" Cynthia quickly questioned. It wasn't a big deal, but saving credits was always good. Meant more she could spend on something else. "Yes, flight crews, even ones in training, don't pay to use the shuttle.
We have free access. You ride all day if you wanted to." Cynthia shook her head and did some quick math.
She then shoved Daniel making him stumble. "You and I will need to have a long talk. Why would you keep this from me knowing what I go through credit wise. And before you even mention it I know what you're thinking and they will be all for it. It's saving credits after all.
Just one question," she looked at Captain Sims, "why would I be a copilot? I could be as good as he is piloting this thing probably better." Sims laughed hard.
"Got a hand full there don't you Daniel. I don't envy you the time you will have," he clamped a hand down on Daniel's shoulder. "Every shuttle has two pilots. We say copilot because they work together. Both will learn every aspect of the cockpit and they learn the shuttle systems.
On completing the training both are given the title of pilot." Cynthia's face lit up as Captain Sims spoke. Then a thought occurred to her and it darkened again.
"What's the cost?" Captain Sims looked at Daniel with a wide grinned and waved for him to explain. "There is nothing to pay. By accepting, the agreement is that I would take on a two-year assignment as a pilot, at a twenty percent reduced pay, to fill in where there is a need. It could be a daily thing or it could be as needed thing. It all depends on the other pilots. Starting this week there is going to be an increase the number of shuttles because of the repeated comments that there is to long of a wait time.
They are also going to make a few changes and have shuttles detour out to several of the larger mining sites to give workers more opportunity to come to the stations and spend credits. Now I will gladly give you credits if you just go get your ticket and forget all about this." Cynthia gave him an 'I'm hurt look' before laughing.
"Forget it partner, if Captain Sims can arrange it I can agree to that. My father will be more than pleased, when he finds out. Not so pleased if I didn't jump at the chance. Besides, even at reduced pay, this will be a sweet paying job. It might even help me convince my parents that I'm capable of being on my own and let me get a place. That will be a big help with school don't you think." She didn't wait for an answer and looked at Captain Sims who nodded.
She jumped up latching on Daniels shoulders. "Yes. Let me call my folks." She was right. They were more than happy to let her stay and be trained as a pilot. With a deep-throated groan, Daniel followed Captain Sims flight crew entry with all to cheerful Cynthia between them.
They agreed to meet him before the day's classes and after. They would do the paperwork the next day, getting registered. He also said they would train the majority of any days they were not in class unless they needed the time for schoolwork, or other matters.
It would take several weeks maybe more to finish that way but it wouldn't interfere much with school and still let them have some down time to relax. The spent the next two flights just siting and listening. Captain Sims gave them some suggestions and they both agreed. A few weeks passed and everything was going seemingly well. Cynthia crossed the food court, and found an empty table. She was smiling at Daniel as he sat down across from her.
She was nervous. They were busy almost every waking minute. Whatever time they were not in class, they spent either in training with Captain Sims or in working on the project. They were on their fourth week. They agreed to take a break. Daniel had tried to talk her into doing something with one of her girlfriends. She could take a break from him he joked with her still. She said she would have if she hadn't done it before and then found him sleeping on the floor of the room they were using to do their project.
He tried to say he was just checking on an issue the monitoring system sent him. She knew better. He had testing equipment out and notes strewn all over. She had screamed at him reminding him that they only had a few times they could break from everything.
They had to relax because they wouldn't do any good to burn out on the first session. He was pushing the limits to make sure the project worked as close to the plan as he could get it. She got angry with him and pushed against him and into the nearest wall. She even got a light slap to his head as she told him he was an idiot. "I know that smile," he said looking at her and cocking his head looking up at her. "What's going on in that pretty little head of yours now.
Please tell me that you came to your sense and decided to run off with some of your girlfriends. I'm sure they would still enjoy running around to stores." "What you don't like spending time with me," she asked her smile slipping away.
Daniel let out an exasperated groan. "Not what I said or meant, and you know it. We spend at least twelve hours a day every day together. Figured you would welcome the change." "Yeah well the last time I did look what happened." Daniel looked up as if in thought. "Other than me coming up with a few changes that fixed a few issues we had and thus increased the success rate of the project by twenty percent?" She waited patiently as he teased her. "Oh yeah think you assaulted me several times.
Think I got a little brain damage from that hit too. I should have gone to medical" "You were already damaged," Cynthia huffed.
" It's not happening again. If you get any epiphanies, you can just hold them until tomorrow. Today is mostly about relaxing, and I need you to enjoy it because I need you to do something." Her smile came back.
"I see so insult me then tell me you want to do something and expect me to just say okay," Daniel mocked even more grinning in amusement. "Well I don't think you really have a choice in this. In fact I wasn't going to say anything but then considering how you may react I figured its better I did." "I have a choice in everything I do.
I just don't always have choices I care to pick. So out with it. What is it and why are you so nervous about it. I highly doubt that it's as horrible as your making it sound." She glared at him and grinned even wider. "Fine Mister Smarty. I got a call from your mother. She's mad that she and your father have not yet met me. She says that you talk about me all the time and has repeatedly told you to bring me over for dinner one week.
She seemed to be under the impression that I wasn't willing to meet them. She seemed to get upset when I told her that you never even mentioned it to me." By then Daniel had put his head down into his hands and covered his face. "I didn't think there was sufficient time. I didn't want to take away from your time with your family or anything else that you have going on." Cynthia looked at him as he looked up still a shade of red in the face.
She laughed. "You are a complete idiot. I told your mother I would be happy to and we set it up for dinner after we finished with Captain Sims and the hours of drills he's planning this weekend. But that's not really the nervous part. My parents…" Daniel looked over and shook his head hard. "NO, not happening. The last thing I need is to be grilled by your parents about keeping you from them half a day every day." "Well that's where the no choice comes in.
See they brought it up when I was talking to your mother. She and my mother got into a big conversation. Since you and I spend so much time together, they think it's only right to meet you. Both our mothers talked about everyone getting together, maybe dinner. She promised that you would meet them and have dinner with them the week after. She even said she would drag you there herself if she had to." Again, there were choices. Just not ones he wanted to pick. "It may not get that far.
After all, you're meeting my parents first. That may just scare you off." He groaned trying to add a little humor to his tone. "I really wish you hadn't agreed until you told me." Cynthia felt a little twinge in her chest.
Her eyes got wide as she looked at Daniel. "You're embarrassed to be partnered with me." "What? Uh? What," Daniel asked suddenly confused. "I get it now. You're embarrassed ashamed mortified or whatever you want to call it. You got a girl for a partner and you are ashamed of it.
Or you think I am unworthy for some reason. Is that it? After all this time and everything we have been doing you have the nerve…" she fumed her voice louder with each word.
Daniel looked at her, shook his head and sighed. "Get a hold of yourself. You are way off. This is not the place for this discussion," he interrupted before she could finish. He tried to contain himself but the frustration got to him. He slammed his hands down on the table and picked up his food tray. He stood up quickly and took it to the nearest recycler, tossing the nearly untouched food away. He walked away without another word. It took only a moment for Cynthia to recover and get up and run after him, leaving her own tray sitting there.
She grabbed him, dragged him off to a corner, and punched him in the shoulder. "What the hell is the big idea hitting me?" She stared at him and he could see not just anger but she was tearing. "You better explain now or I'm going to hit you somewhere else and I am more than certain you won't like where even more. " She whispered desperately. "Tell me what I did, what I didn't do. What is it that makes you so mad about this." Daniel closed his eyes.
"Why is it that girls always think it's about them?" he asked. He was about to continue when they both got a message.
The tone said it was from the monitoring system for their project. They read it and Daniel grabbed her hand as they ran off to fix the issue. It took an hour, and they worked mostly in silence. Daniel sat at the desk and made a few entries in a journal they were keeping.
"We like to feel special, us girls." Cynthia said softly as she came over and set down a drink for him. Daniel looked up and frowned. "That's why we think it's about us all the time. We like to think it is because it makes us feel special. Think about it, we only do it with men. You don't really see it between women. If something is about us then we are the center of their world for that moment.
We do like being the center of a guy's focus. It's worse when we like the guy and feel threatened." She continued and watched his face. "That and we are a little shallow." She laughed. Daniel smiled a little.
"Some more than others," he said softly, picking up the drink and taking a big swallow. "Watch it, " she said. "You men are far from perfect." Daniel nodded. "Perfection is over rated." "Daniel please tell me. You should know by now that you can trust me." Daniel leaned back and took another drink. "I didn't bring home many people, especially girls, when I was in high school. The few people I did bring home to hang out always stopped talking to me after the first time.
They would be talking to my parents and before I knew it, they were rushing out the door. Girls especially, ran fast and didn't look back. Maybe they said something horrible to them, scared them for some reason. I don't know. All I know is that even in school they treated me differently. Word got around fast whatever it was. I couldn't even get a date to go to the dances even if I knew how to dance." "I find that hard to believe," Cynthia said rolling her eyes at him.
"Your mother seemed so pleasant on the call. What could they possibly be telling them to make them scared to be around you? You have some big dark secret you haven't told me?" Daniel nodded. "Dark? No. Big, maybe to some. Secret, yes. I don't think it was intentional. I think they just over played the parent role a bit and scared them somehow.
I just didn't want to deal with that happening with you. We are barely into the first session with five to go. It's going to be long enough with all the work. Whatever they do or say could just complicate things. And it's to late to break in a new partner." "So tell me what it is and then they can't use that." Daniel shook his head and stood up.
"There is very little that I haven't told you about me. In fact you probably know me better than most. The one thing I just don't like the way some treat me after they know. Let me keep it for now. It's possible that this will not be a repeat of high school. They know there isn't a way to change things and no matter what we will be stuck together until the end.
They may not make things complicated. We can wait and see." He stood in front of her and looked down into her face and locked on her eyes and saw the hint of fear. "It's not a bad thing. It will just change your opinion of me. I just don't know yet how much or to which side." She blinked and the fear was gone. Daniel saw a spark of understanding in them instead. He looked around before he realized he had taken her hands into his and was holding them.
"Now I know you're not going to like this but you need to go home. I would walk you to the shuttle but I have to stay here and keep a watch for a few hours." He quickly let go and started for monitoring system. "You are already two hours past the time you told your parents you would be home. This is a lynch pin. We will fail everything if we lose it. One of us has to monitor it and correct any issues that may come up until it compensates for the changes.
We both know that one can't be you right now. So go home. I will call if there's anything drastic I can't handle." She hesitated and watched him a moment. "Call me every hour you are here, let me know what the standing is.
I'll call as soon as I get home." She reached and patted his shoulder. A look around the room only reinforced what he said. It was her fault they were doing this, at least in part.
As much as he was trying to make sure she didn't fail, she had to do the same for him. She let out a held breath as Daniel just nodded and made some more adjustments.
She had turned away and didn't see him shiver as she pulled her hand off. She called an hour later. She told him that to say that her parents were not happy was putting it mildly.
They calmed down when she explained about issue with their project that. She had already told them that the project was tied to all their classes. It would have an effect on the grades for each class if it failed. She told him that she was sorry she had to leave it all on him. It wasn't fair. Daniel told her not to worry, it was just one of the things they would have to work through.
The week went by faster than any other did, much to fast for Daniel's liking. Even the professors seemed to be working against him. They didn't assign anything to be completed for the start of the next week.
That made it so they couldn't use that as an excuse to cancel. Captain Sims even cut things short. The last few days he and his copilot had been sitting back watching them and letting them take the seat. He laughed at them when they were arguing over who is the pilot. He could see that it was playful bickering. He didn't want it getting to out of hand so he finally reminded them they shared it, they would alternate between runs.
Daniel picked up the pilots log. He did a scan for the runs he was in the control seat, after double-checking the last entry he signed off then handed it to Cynthia who did the same. Captain Sims then informed them they would be doing maintenance on the shuttle so they would meet in the repair section the next time. He stifled any groans reminding them that just about anyone could be taught to fly a shuttle.
A good pilot learned all that he or she could about the craft, inside and out. They took the next flight to Station Four. Cynthia had brought along a change of clothing. She had changed when Daniel went to log them as passenger for the next flight. She grinned at him as he did a double take.
She wasn't overly dressed, but did wear a dress instead of pants. She cleans up well, Daniel thought to himself. Even the little bit of makeup she wore just made her radiate. "Do I look okay? Maybe I should have done something more formal." Daniel shook his head. She had on some simple shoes that gave her a little more height.
The dress cut off just below her knees. She had her hair flowing just of her shoulders. He pulled his eyes away as they boarded the shuttle. "You look as great as always, not even a hair out of place." Daniel sat down and fastened the seat harness. "Let's just hope Mom didn't need dad to help out cooking. He tends to forget and burn things. Or undercooks them thinking they will burn." Cynthia laughed, "maybe you should give him cooking lessons," she joked. They started laughing and then started talking about the day and the week at school.
The session was actually going well. Testing every week had them at the top of the class. Professor Kingston even asked if they could stay and help with the lab class when they finished. Daniel didn't want to but Cynthia made a face at him.
She always jumped at the chance to help and do things for just about anyone. When Daniel didn't, she would harass him until he gave in. She often pointed out that if more people helped when they had the chance then life would be vastly different. Her good nature added more work on their already busy days. The librarian had opened up three of the study rooms for them since the number of kids join their study time increased.
Their flight was over an hour and a half. Neither of them had brought any schoolbooks to read or anything for that matter. Instead, they just sat and talked. When they arrived, Daniel led the way. She was a little surprised when he made a stop at a shop to buy some fresh baked bread. It wasn't very cheap, ten credits for the loaf. Daniel had turned around and seen the look on face when he paid.
"Both my parents love the taste of fresh bread. My mother has made it a few times but the cost of the ingredients to makes it difficult to do often." He reached down and took her hand before he started walking again. "She thinks it's some conspiracy that the prices are so high. I gave her the credits to buy everything, and explained why it was so high but she insists that she will wait for prices that are more reasonable. So now, I just bring the bread. She'll complain about it, tell me silly and not to waste credits.
She'll even say the only reason she will eat it is so it doesn't go to waste." Cynthia was staring her mouth open unsure what to say. "From that look you agree with her." Daniel grinned and waved the bread under her nose.
"Credits are meant to be spent. May as well spend them on something you're going to enjoy." They were laughing when Daniel brought them up to the housing level and stopped at the apartment door. "This is it." Cynthia nodded and squeezed his hand as a wash of nervousness ran through her.
Daniel looked into her face and smiled. He opened his mouth but shook it off and started for the door. Cynthia pulled him back. "What?" "Nothing I was just, &hellip. it's nothing." "Daniel I thought we were past this. You have to learn." He didn't let her finish as he pulled her tightly and kissed her on the lips.
He leaned into the kiss drawing her as close as he could. It lasted less than a minute before he pulled back. "Just in case I don't get another chance," he said as he pulled away and opened the door, before she could react. He didn't even give her time to let the blush fade from her cheeks. She was smiling as she came into the door and her jaw dropped. Sitting in the room they entered was her parents. Daniel was shocked but recovered a little faster than Cynthia. "Mom, didn't know we were having extra company tonight.
I would have come early and helped out or brought more stuff." His mother got up and crossed to them. "Well we didn't want to add any more pressure to your two.
We know how much work you been putting into the schoolwork and the extra that you're doing with Captain Sims. But Daniel, you didn't do her justice when you talked about her.
She's much prettier than your have been going on about." A blushing Daniel frowned and moved so an equally blushing Cynthia could get past him. She went over and hugged both of her parents. "Mom, Dad this is Daniel, Daniel my mother and father." Daniel looked sideways at his mother before stepping up and shaking both their hands. "Mr. and Mrs. Prieto, it's a pleasure to meet you. Please accept my apologies that we have not met sooner. I am sorry if tonight has caused any inconvenience.
If the session had not turned out as busy as it has I'm sure Cynthia would have made sure we met sooner." Her mother laughed and gushed, "Very polite and a little chivalrous. I am impressed. I thought Cynthia was exaggerating. I didn't think teenagers had those traits these days." Daniel looked at Cynthia who was blushing even harder and avoiding looking directly at him.
"Well then I better get the introductions away. Cynthia, my mother, Edna, my father, Benjamin. Mom dad this is Cynthia." Cynthia smiled and came over. She didn't just shake their hands but pulled them into short tight embrace. Daniel rolled his eyes and stepped away to the kitchen. "Mom is there anything you need help with? Anything we need?" "Don't be silly Daniel. We have everything under control." Cynthia's mother said as she followed him in.
"We brought a few things along. Your mother told me that you always bring a nice loaf of bread and we bought another just to be sure there's enough.
We even have a nice bottle of wine. Your mom said it would be a nice thing for your both to try. We would have brought over a nice brandy we have been saving but your mother wouldn't have it." "I insisted they save it," his mother added as she came in, Cynthia was right behind her. "This is a nice occasion but something like that should be for a special one.
Now dinner is still cooking and you two need to go out of my kitchen," she looked at Cynthia as she stood over between her mother and Daniel. "You have been working hard all week and should sit relax." She pushed them back to the living room. "Maybe you should show Cynthia your room. You can show her those certifications you keep hiding.
I put them up on your wall." "I rather not, " he grumbled. "They're not that important and I wish you would leave them where I put them. Maybe next time I'll just incinerate them." "Daniel Miller you will do no such thing. You should be proud to show them to people. They are proof I need when I tell everyone how smart my son is. You can't deny a mother that." His father nearly choked as he took a drink. "Yeah, smart, right. Maybe she can figure out how such a smart boy graduated only ninety-ninth.
I think those test were a scam and we were taken." His mother walked over and gently smacked his father in the head. "Don't you say that. He's a smart boy and you know it." "Come on," Daniel sighed as their parents started laughing. They were still going on when Daniel opened the door to his room. "I took most things with me to the dorm so it's a little sparse." Cynthia went in and looked around.
She laughed as she spun. "I would say it's barren. It's almost as if you weren't planning on coming back here." She said as she sat on the bed. The room was small but it had everything that he would need growing up. There were some photos in a frame on the stand, most of his parents, some of animals and birds.
She looked at the one wall and saw three framed documents. "So that's your big secret, that you're smart?" Daniel nodded with a groan. "Well," she stood," I already knew that mister smarty pants." She continued as she stepped over to the door and looked out. "I knew that the second day of classes. You shouldn't correct professors so much, it's a giveaway." She walked to him and wrapped her arms around him to see if it helped comfort him any. Daniel let out a gasp as his heart rate jumped.
He resisted the desire to hug her back as he pushed her away and towards the wall. "Take a closer look," he said as he left the room. Cynthia took a few minutes smiling as she walked over and started reading each of the plaques.
After the first one, she looked at where Daniel had been then read the other two. She didn't know what to make of it. It did explain a lot. She didn't see how this was as bad as he made it out to be. That is when she had a thought.
Her eyes narrowed and her lips pursed she went out to find Daniel. Fortunately, for him, they were about ready to sit to eat. The dinner went off without a hitch. They ate talked and the parents shared stories of days when the kids were younger.
Cynthia had almost forgotten about the matter she wanted to discuss with Daniel. Everyone was talking in the living room when Cynthia's parents decided it was time to go. They had just about enough time to make the next shuttle leaving. "Mom, Dad give me a moment I need to talk to Daniel about something," Cynthia said as she started to pull Daniel to his room.
"We will talk more about this, but now I have one question and you better answer me straight out or so help me I will hit you where boys don't want to be hit." She said in a hushed tone shutting the door. "How is it that a genius is partnered with me? My IQ scores were nowhere near that. How much did you have to dumb down?" Daniel waited and took several deep breaths.
"That's actually two questions. Which is it you want me to answer?" he tried to sound serious and not amused at her effort. She looked deep in his eyes and her lips pursed as her knee rose. Daniel backed away holding his hands up in defense. "The university uses the IQ tests to see what classes will hold the best potential for students, what fields of study they will do best in. They use cerebral monitoring to ensure that students are doing their best on the tests.
It shows them when students are guessing but can also show if they are intentionally making wrong choices. I didn't hold anything back. You and I are assigned partners because of traits we each have help us counter and balance the other. IQ is just a small part of what they look at. We wouldn't be working out as partners if that wasn't the case.
I'm not sure it would have worked with anyone else." Cynthia studied him. She didn't have long before he father was calling out to her. "Ok, smart boy, I'll accept that for now." She said as she got in front of him and wrapped her arms around him. "Now Smart boy," she leaned in and kissed him slipping her tongue in his mouth as he slowly pulled in on her lower lip. "We will talk about this kissing thing when we have more time." Slightly out of breath, she pulled away and ran out the door.
Time was going by fast. It had been three weeks since the dinner. The only thing that changed was that both sets of parents had agreed that Daniel and Cynthia would go to one home or the other for dinner once a week. They were on week eight of Captain Sims's training program and he had been giving over more of flight tasks to them. Daniel was seated in the pilot's seat going over the preflight list. Cynthia was double-checking everything when the com chimed. For some reason it was voice only.
Daniel frowned wondering if there was a comm issue but keyed the system to answer. "This is Daniel Miller, Captain Sims is not yet aboard. Is there a message you wish me to relay to him?" "This is Captain Sims, Daniel. Tom and I are caught up in some bureaucratic nonsense. I can't come to the shuttle for the flight. I need you and Cynthia to make the next two scheduled runs. I should be able to clear this up by the time you come back for the third runoff the day.
You both have been doing great and can do this. It is no different from when I am there in the cockpit with you. Those passengers are relying on you to get them to their destination. One last thing. Remember the rule. No arguing of who is going to pilot.
Both of you take a run. Daniel looked at Cynthia who was brimming with excitement. "We don't have a problem with doing the runs Captain. I'm sure flight control is having a hissy fit though. Isn't there another pilot that can sit in with us? "Unfortunately no there are no other pilots here.
They are not happy but they also know they can't cancel flights without a major problem. This is the better solution. This is what you have been training for after all. You know what to do and how your need to do it." "Appreciate the confidence Captain.
Take care of what you need to. We'll give them a smooth ride." "I know you will. Good luck both of you." The call ended and they both went back to doing checks.
"Ladies and gentlemen please have a seat we will be departing shortly. Please refrain from eating or drinking as we exit the shuttle bay. You may resume doing so when we reach cruising speed. Thank your for using the shuttle service today and you all have a wonderful day." Daniel said as he opened the shuttles interior speakers. Daniel started the engine and looked at the monitors as he saw every passenger seated and ready to depart. " Flight control this is shuttle four.
All Flights systems are green. Request permission to depart." "Shuttle four you are green for flight. Please be advised that station two is currently having technical difficulties with the moorings in the primary shuttle bay.
You are cleared to alter normal route to station two and set for docking in the secondary bay, we are forwarding coordinates now. Smooth ride Mister Miller." "Thank you flight, shuttle four out. We will catch you on the return." Cynthia released the moorings and began planning the new route. Daniel slid his fingers over the controls and slowly eased the shuttle out of the launch bay.
It was only a minor course correction to get them on course for station two. Daniel eased the thrusters up to power and they sped away.
They both looked out the shuttle windows and watched for any possible debris that could cause damage. They did have sensory equipment but they liked the human touch as well. It wasn't until they reached station two that they had a problem.
"Shuttle four to Station two flight control. We are inbound and on schedule. Station one has informed us that your having issues with the primary shuttle launch bay we are on course for the given coordinates for the secondary.
Request clearance." Daniel watched his controls and started to slow to docking speed. "Shuttle four we have blockage in the secondary.
You are directed to use the hard dock. Alter course to the coordinates that follow. You will be using the secondary port. Your passengers will be directed from there. All out going passengers are already being directed to the waiting area." Daniel looked at the transmitted corrections and then at Cynthia. "If they are going to be making more shuttles and adding more traffic they better hurry up and increase bay sizes.
This could cause a problem all day." Cynthia just nodded and started to set the shuttle for a hard dock. Daniel keyed the internal communications.
" Ladies and gentlemen Station two is currently experience some technical difficulties. We will be using a secondary method to dock at the station. For those of you that have not had this experience, this procedure requires that we dock outside the station. The shuttle will be attached and a gangplank extended. As you exit the shuttle keep your hands on the rail at all times until you reach the other side.
You may experience some gravity loss so please secure all personal objects before crossing. There will be station staff to help you through if needed. On behalf of the station, I offer apologies for any inconveniences this causes.
Have a better day." A hard dock actually would take both of them at the controls. Daniel monitored the station's rotation while keeping the thrusters firing without cutting off completely. Cynthia had maneuvering controls and had to line the docking port with the shuttles hatchway. "Daniel, ease back on the thrust I can't get a lock," Cynthia told him as she let her fingers move over several controls.
"Okay, we are matching the Stations rotational speed, I take over the vertical thrusters while concentrate on the horizontal. It took a few extra minutes but Cynthia finally guided the hatchway in lined up Daniel sent out the moorings and locked and secured the position.
Cynthia locked on the gangplanks outer seal and started the decompression. Once they had a green light for a complete seal, Cynthia stood. "I'll help from this side.
It's early so we shouldn't have many coming aboard. Think you can handle this by yourself Smart Boy?" Daniel groaned at the nickname she started to use. "Maybe I should just leave you here." He grumbled as he began checking all the equipment. "Breakfast with mom and dad does sound good but then I think you'd miss me to much.
I couldn't have it on my conscience if you crashed this thing thinking of me." She smiled and caressed his cheek as she walked by him. Daniel didn't bother to watch her go. He had his attention where it was supposed to be, on the shuttle monitors. The thrusters were off and the shuttle was secured but he had an uneasy feeling about this kind of docking. It was so seldom used to connect to a station.
Every station had a main shuttle bay and a backup. The odds were against them both being out at the same time. The hard docks on any station were reserved for used in emergency evacuation. They were more readily used on the mining asteroids where space was limited. Daniel watched the passenger cabin monitor and saw the passengers start to board. "All passengers are aboard Daniel. I'll seal the gangway from here ."Cynthia called from the cabin.
Daniel nodded even though she couldn't see and watched the monitor controls for the gangway. Once it was locked back in place the hatch sealed. Daniel gave the passengers the same message as he did on station one. "Shuttle four to station two flight control. We are loaded and all shows green. Request approval for departure." Daniel was saying as Cynthia got back to her seat. "Flight control to shuttle four, excellent job on the docking. Passengers have already stopped to relay their compliments.
They didn't feel anything unusual." "That was the plan flight. No need to agitate them any more than necessary," Daniel replied. "Well you succeeded Mister Miller. You are cleared to depart for station three, way looks clear and you are on schedule." "Thank you flight, shuttle four out." Everything went as it should for the rest of the flight.
They even stopped for a moment of silence at the Station Five memorial. The explosion that destroyed it was before either Daniel or Cynthia was born, but as they watched the passengers, several bowed their head. Every flight made this stop, so those that did have memories of it could have that moment. Daniel looked the other way, at the Earth, two hundred fifty thousand miles away.
It was a beautiful site that many didn't notice anymore. He often suspected it was like the moon in the days before humanity left Earth, thought of in pome, song and minds of scientists. There stop was over way to soon in Daniels opinion. They had to go to Station Six. It was built with the debris of station five, and expanded to accommodate the loss.
It was financed by business and private funds. It was to be a refining station but it turned out to be more. Every kind of market was built there.
If it was bought and sold, there was a place to find it on station six. Working on the station meant living there, and the corporations didn't make it cheap. Since they paid most of the bill to build it, the corporations were allowed to make their own rules for the people that lived and worked there.
Some of them not very pleasant. Slavery among other things was a common practice. It made Daniel cringe each time he was even near the place. When they finally came around again to Station One Daniel got up and stretched. Cynthia got up with him and just as he was putting his arms down she moved in letting his arms fall over her shoulders.
She kissed him softly and then a little more. With her arms around his back, she tightened the embrace and felt his arms do the same. "Careful I might start to think that you like me or something," Daniel laid his head on her shoulder and whispered in her ear. He liked the way she trembled.
"Like you?" she feigned a little shock as she pulled away. "Only in your dreams smart boy. You're lucky I even associate with you at all let alone touch me." Daniel gasped hiding a grin, "Why I never, fine if that's how you feel," he turned in her arms and pulled as he stepped backwards.
Cynthia lunged at him. "Idiot smarty pants." She mumbled. Daniel held her another minute before kissing her forehead and pushing her away. "You have some flight checks to start. I'm going for a drink would you like something?" "Yeah, some coffee. I can't believe you got me hooked on that stuff." Daniel grinned. "I didn't exactly hold a gun to your head miss. It was amusing watching you buzz around and that was on the artificial stuff.
You should try the real stuff one day. Only it's about fifteen credits a cup, a bit steep but sometimes way worth it." Daniel returned with just enough time to double check the secondary controls. The issue with the secondary bay at station two was still ongoing so they talked about the hard dock.
They both agreed to do things a little different. Cynthia got them matching the speed but settle just ahead of the hatch cutting the main thrusters.
They then used the maneuvering thrusters to get in position. It took less time and they even got a couple inches closer to the station. They were halfway done with the run when Daniel asked her how everything was handling. "Seems fine one moment then a little sluggish the next.
Controls are a bit stiff." "Are you using the thruster more or less?" "More, but only to increase speed, we are staying on course. We seem to be slowing steadily." "Take a look here. I think there's a blockage in the flow of the fuel to the thruster. It looks like it's some kind of bubble in the line. It's making the thrusters loose power in spurts. If it gets worse we could lose it all together." "We can fix that." she said and looked at her display.
" We are steady so we can shut the thruster off enough for you to do what you need to. I'll use the navigational thrusters if necessary." "Wait, its hot fuel, we can't dump it back to the reactor. I'm going to shunt off the main line, let the thrusters burn it out before we switch to the secondary line. Timed right we might not even have a shutdown at all." They did manage it and the only other issue that came up was a runaway asteroid near Station Five's memorial.
Cynthia had to do some impressive maneuvering to miss it. The rapid movements startled some but they were happy to be shaken up and not dead from the impact. They returned to Station One started flight checks and filed logs reports. Cynthia frowned when the reports came back incomplete, and triple checked them.
"We didn't forget anything. This is as completed as it gets. What are they talking about?" Daniel took the report and looked it over again. "I don't know," he shrugged, "maybe a glitch in the transmission. Try resending it." "Maybe I can answer that," a voice behind them said. Captain Sims and Tom, his copilot, were there standing smiling. "May I?" Daniel frowned but handed Captain Sims the report pad.
He shook his head a few times and even had Tom looking over his shoulder. It felt like forever before they both nodded and agreed at something Captain Sims pointed to.
He passed the tablet back to Daniel and pointed. "I think it's here." Daniel read it and read it again. "It's my signature, same way I have been signing them all along." He said and flipped to Cynthia's report and looked at the same section. She nodded as he looked to her for confirmation.
"Maybe it's not the exact signature, but it's a signature. Most people never sign things the same exact way. Are they really being that hardcore about it?" Captain Sims smiled, "Not the signature Daniel, the line beside it." "Title, Student training," Daniel read "that's how you said…" Captain Sims cut him off. "I'm sorry we couldn't do this a bit more formal but we still have a day of runs to do. Come on back to the passenger cabin. Tom will get the rest of the preflight done." Daniel froze when he stepped into the cabin and saw his parents and Cynthia's all standing next to the Director of flight operations.
"Cynthia Pietro, step up please," the director ordered. "When Captain Sims made this proposal to me I admit I was a little concerned. I didn't believe that there would be any so young that would be dedicated enough to learn what is required to be a shuttle pilot. I have read all the reports and still didn't believe it until today. Young lady we were all a little concerned when that asteroid entered the flight path. It took great piloting to miss it and get your passengers to the station safely." He turned and nodded to her mother who came around and stood next to her.
"It is with honor that I hereby welcome you to the Flight Service and grant you the position of Shuttle pilot with the rank of lieutenant." He said as Cynthia's mother started pinning a set of wings on her chest and a small gold circle on her collar. There was a round of applause as Cynthia started to cry and hugged her mother. "Daniel Miller please step forward." Daniel dragged his feet a little. He hated these situations. He finally stood next to Cynthia who casually reached down and took his hand.
"A pilot must know his ship and its workings. We set up the test to see how you would react to situations. You managed to notice the changes even before we had a chance to set the test in motion.
Your actions prevented it. It came to my attention a short time ago that there was a malfunction with the test.
If it had been initialize as planned, it would have caused the line to open up in the opposite direction. You would not have been able to stop the fuel from being dumped into the reactor. The shuttle would have exploded. Even our experts don't know how you did it, but whatever the cause we are grateful. " Again he turned and nodded to Daniel's mother. "It is with It is with honor that I hereby welcome you to the Flight Service and grant you the position of Shuttle pilot with the rank of lieutenant." The Director turned around and faced the crowd.
"Ladies and gentlemen I present the newest and youngest of our flight crews." It was only after releasing his mother that Daniel noticed that the whole thing was being videoed. "Director, as nice as this all is, Shuttle four is schedule to depart in ten minutes," Daniel looked at Captain Sims. "We don't think Captain Sims wouldn't want to hold any of his passengers up." The Director looked at the video team and nodded.
"New to the position and ever the professional. Ladies and gentlemen, Lieutenant Miller is correct. If you're not boarding for the next flight, please join me in the shuttle waiting room. Captain Sims waited until they all left. "You both did great." He put a hand one hand on each of their shoulders and gently squeezed. "I couldn't be more pleased. Now go out and celebrate with your parents.
Go to the counter and see Grace, she will take you around the back and away from the press." He let Cynthia go but pulled Daniel back to him as she went to her parents.
"There is some more training we need to talk about. We will talk about it in a few days." Daniel just frowned and gave him a curious look. "Go on, I have a flight to make." Captain Sims gave him a little push toward Cynthia and their parents. They managed to avoid being seen. They went out and had a nice lunch. They endured the constant pats on the back they were getting from their parents even thought they were at times embarrassing. It wasn't until the afternoon when the news report came out that everyone started to recognize them.
The school week was filled with even more people congratulating them and asking how it felt and what was going to happen next. They were so caught up in the celebration neither had thought to think about that. "We do what we have been doing all this time. If they need us, we will go and do our part.
Until then maybe we will get some extra sleep at night." Cynthia offered up. For a few weeks that worked out. They took one of the early morning flights to help Captain Sims and then spent the rest of the day in class or studying. Due to the project they were attempting to do, the professors didn't ask much additional form them.
Still somehow, they managed to get pulled into helping around the chemistry lab and in Culinary. That ended as they started studying for final exams. Daniel was spending more and more time with the project. As he studied and made notes, he started to realize that he hadn't really done anything new. He made a miniature version of what was already being done.
Again he over thought. He just hoped it didn't affect the grades. He had done what was needed. There were aspects of almost every class. Culinary wasn't directly, but the results of the experiment would be used for that class.
And the wait began.