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“This is ridiculous,” she said, tugging the cable out of the back of her head. “It’s like I take three steps backward for every step forward.”

He sighed and put his hand over hers. “You’re pushing yourself too hard. You have to just ease into it.”

She glared at him. “Easy for you to say,” she muttered. “You’re not on a deadline.”

He shook his head and laughed softly. “A self imposed deadline,” he said. “You don’t have to go out on the first mission. The second flight is only a few weeks later.”

She pulled her hand away from his. “That would look great, wouldn’t it? It’s my project. If I’m not on the first mission, the directors will want to know why. If I’m not there because I never learned to use a remote operations unit then it just looks like a massive omission on my part.”

“Fine,” he said, holding his hands up defensively. “But you do know you’re jumping in at the deep end there, don’t you?”

She folded her arms. “What do you mean by that?”

He reached over to the console and tapped in a few commands. “The ROU you’re using. Scout model is universally acknowledged as the trickiest to control because they’re designed for speed. They react to the slightest twitch, which is why you keep going backwards when you’re just trying to keep your balance.”

She blinked and looked at him. “When did you become an expert on remote ops units?”

He grinned. “When the woman I love had to figure out how to use one in half the usual training time. Here, try getting used to a Tank unit first. They’re slower and far more stable.”

Her face softened. “Thank you,” she said.

He stepped back as she plugged the cable back in underneath her hair and started up the boot sequence, watching her eyes turn milky grey as her perceptions linked up with the remote unit out in the training yard.

“I’m going to miss you,” he whispered.

© Kari Fay

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