Farah headed to the Bridge. When she arrived, Leon and Katie were standing with the Captain. Lucy was sitting at a console, her eyes closed as usual. Farah saluted and stood at attention.
“You really need to learn to ease up,” Ophelia said. “You don’t have to salute me, you know.”
“Sorry, Captain,” Farah stated.
“On Leon’s recommendation, I’m granting you the full rights of a pilot. The Elegant Simurgh is now yours, as long as you continue to perform well.”
“Thank you very much,” Farah declared. “Leon, thank you!” She ran over and hugged the tall man.
“Don’t thank me,” Leon said. “I just guided you a little. You earned this yourself.”
Farah shook her head. “You helped me so much. I wouldn’t be able to pilot it like I can without you teaching me.”
“I never would have taken you for the teaching type,” Katie said.
“I’m just surprised he’s letting her hug him,” Lucy added.
“What?” Leon asked. “Do you expect me to hit a girl who isn’t threatening me?”
Lucy made a note of the door opening while they were talking.
“I’m telling my brother,” Grace said, after taking in the scene.
“I didn’t do anything!” Leon protested. “She got excited and hugged me.”
“In that case she should find someone less prickly to cuddle up to,” Grace said. She leaned towards them. “I’m available, you know.”
Farah’s face flushed and she moved away from Leon. “That’s okay. I just got caught up in the moment. Sorry for causing trouble.”
“That’s disappointing,” Grace said. “I would have liked some attention too.” She winked at Farah. “Maybe next time.”
“Grace, you must’ve come here for a reason,” Ophelia said.
“Yeah,” Grace acknowledged. “I looked over Yuri’s systems.”
“We’re calling the android ‘Yuri’?” Katie asked.
“Isn’t that a guy’s name?” Leon asked.
“It can also be a name for girls,” Grace stated. “Depending on which region of Earth you’re taking it from. Anyway, her systems are all in superb condition and I was able to find a way to disable her should the need arise.”
“Well done,” Lucy said. “So, what’s the method?”
“I can design a specialised type of EMP grenade for it,” Grace explained. “A normal EMP won’t do shit to her systems, but if I can attune one to her frequency specifically, then it should blast through her safeguards.”
Ophelia nodded. “That makes sense. Make a couple as soon as you can. We’ll keep one with the rest of the weapons, but hidden from sight so that she doesn’t see it. We’ll give the other one to Lucy. If she goes berserk then we should be able to get to one of them.”
“On to more pleasant news,” Grace said. “I’ve got Allison and Paul preparing for Yuri’s welcome party tonight.”
“How delightful!,” Lucy exclaimed. “We should all dress up!”
“We’ll try to finish up our work here before then,” Ophelia said. “Farah, Leon, why don’t you two help prepare?”
“Yes, Captain!” Farah declared.
“Whatever,” Leon muttered.
The two left the Bridge and hurried down the corridor towards the Canteen.
“Thank you, for giving me the chance to act as a full pilot,” Farah said. “It means a lot.”
Leon shrugged. “You couldn’t be a trainee forever.”
“I’ve been meaning to ask, how did you lose your alliance position?” Farah asked.
Leon stopped in place. “It’s not a super interesting story, but I suppose that I can tell you. I guess it goes back to when I was studying to be a Peacekeeper. Back then, I didn’t like people at all and I kept to myself. But they suggested that we had to understand people, at least, so I joined a group that met once a week to play some old game around a table. That’s where I met Paul, actually.”
“And it was love at first sight?” Farah asked.
Leon chuckled. “Actually, I couldn’t stand him at first. He was withdrawn and I thought that he was one of those pricks who acts all quiet and tortured for attention. But after some time of getting to know each other, we became friends and, after some shit went down that we had to deal with together, more than that.But the important thing that you’ll need to know is that I grew to admire his dedication to medicine and helping people. Anyway, I graduated and began work. After a few weeks, I was already sick of all the bullshit office politics. The only thing that kept me going, that kept me believing in the Alliance, was that Paul was out there. I figured, if the Alliance was all bad then someone like him couldn’t thrive in it. So, I kept trying to improve things on my own end while Paul kept helping people on his. Then, they stripped him of his licence. I wanted to quit instantly and go off with him somewhere where we could just be away from everyone. But, I kept doing my job. We needed money and I didn’t want Paul to have to do anything horrible for it.”
“That’s actually really sweet,” Farah commented. “That you could keep going for his sake.”
Leon shrugged. “Money needed earning so I earned it. But I had lost all faith in the Alliance and couldn’t see it as anything but a place where shitty people thrived and good people got dropped. Then, my boss called me into his office. He told me in a really unsubtle way that being in a relationship with Paul was killing my chances for advancement and that I should drop that… how did he put it? That I should drop ‘that useless baggage.’ Hearing him talk about the man I love, a better man than he could hope to be, like that…. I just lost it. I punched him out and walked away. Luckily, Ophelia came by a couple days later with her job offers. So, that’s pretty much it. I knocked out my boss.”
“Interesting,” Farah said. “Well, I’m glad you’re here. I really enjoyed learning from you.”
“No need to be sentimental about it,” Leon said. “We’ll still work together. Now, c’mon. We’ve got a party to prepare for.”