Matthew walked towards the maintenance hangar with a tired slump to his shoulders. He needed another day working on the Tranjon ship like he needed a laser beam to the head. But the Imperative insisted - three years working and maintaining the ships before he could pilot one.
As far as Matthew was concerned, the Imperative was a bunch of educated idiots. They had no clue how to run the Interstellar Air Navy; their forte was politics, not military operations. But ever since the invasion the Imperative took control over everything, on the ground and in the skies, including Cerulean 9 – the closest docking station to Earth’s atmosphere.
Cerulean 9 was the hub of all things interstellar and was the last leg on Matthew’s climb to pilot school. And he wanted desperately to exchange his tired blue maintenance uniform for the cobalt jump suit the pilots wore. But according to regs he still had three more months before he could make the changeover.
For Matthew it was three months too long. He already knew every inch of the Tranjon Ships, inside and out, backwards and forwards. It didn’t take a genius to figure it out, and it certainly didn’t take a quick learner like Matthew three years. He had the space fighters figured out after the first six months of training. Everything since then had just been a mindless grind, doing the same repairs, fixing the same FTL (faster than light) drives, and buffing the same azure paint were space debris had chipped away at it.
Matthew stopped in the locker room before he got to the hangar and pulled out his work shirt. He buttoned the faded blue maintenance uniform and jammed his hands into the matching gloves. The blue leather was stained black from grease and hard work, and the finger pads were worn thin. The blue hides of the Carribers on Planet Indigous were supposedly the toughest anywhere, but Matthew was still surprised the leather had lasted so long.
“Three more months,” he encouraged his gloves. “Hang in there boys. Not much longer and you can retire.”
He had started talking to his tools and his gear long ago when he realized holding an intelligent conversation with the other maintenance workers was next to impossible, … amebas had bigger brains than they did. Most of them still struggled over the basic operating systems on the Tranjons, and when Matthew offered his advice they would listen patiently then go right back to what they were doing wrong.
He sifted through his tool cart, made sure everything was there then pushed the cart towards docking bay two. The clear external walls of Cerulean 9 made the walk an aesthetic joy. Matthew could see the swirling blue atmosphere of his home planet and the aquamarine water that comprised much of its surface. It never failed to remind him just how small he was.
When he entered the docking bay though, the beautiful view was gone. Matthew stopped just inside. In the place where the azure Tranjon was supposed to be – his assignment for the day – there stood a crowd of familiar faces. They were flocked around a table of refreshments and behind them was a large banner with 'Congratulations' written in bright blue across it. As soon as they saw him they yelled out.
“Well dones,” and “Good Jobs,” came at him from various voices throughout the crowd.
But Matthew was focused, like a good soldier, on one voice and one face; the General’s. He had stepped out from the crowd and was headed straight for Matthew with a blue bundle tucked under his arm.
He slapped Matthew on the back good-naturedly. “It’s three months early and two years late depending on how you look at it. But you have definitely earned it my boy.” General Blaert handed Matthew the long coveted cobalt jumpsuit and a small Sapphire pin in the shape of wings - the insignia of the interstellar Air Navy.
Matthew snapped to attention and saluted the General. “Thank you sir!”
The General returned his salute. “Don’t thank me son. You must have someone higher up looking out for you - thank Him.” General Blaert pointed up. “The Imperative bent the rules for you, son. They must have really liked something you did.”
Matthew smiled gratefully and unfolded the cobalt jumpsuit. He hung it out in front of himself at arms length and admired it. Finally.