I raised an eyebrow at my wingman when the alarms started blaring, finishing my water on the way to the hangar. The cavernous space was alive with activity, a breeze from the rapidly cycling hangar airlock ruffling my hair on the way to the docking bay. A familiar nod to the crew chief, and a climb to the cockpit.
I was encased in a cold blue glow as holographic interfaces, data screens and control surfaces slid into position. My fingers danced, the engines coming to life in response. The rear thruster irised wide open, narrowed and rotated in a full circle before spitting flames at the blast plate. Docking clamps strained to hold the single-person spacecraft in position.
“Aether Four to Asteroid Control, flight checks complete. Request clearance for takeoff.”
“Control to Aether Four, the deck is yours. Stay safe out there, cowboy.”
“Roger that. Four out.”
The clamps released, the engines rumbled, and acceleration shoved me backwards into the seat as I tore away from the asteroid and into space.