The rivalries of an Astrogator pilot
Large bubbles rose through the office water cooler, the air pockets shifting and moulding in a pirouette of shapes as it rose to the surface of the viscous, heavily-filtrated, mineralised water. Gavyn drummed his fingers incessantly on the cooler as he watched the bubbles glob and plop to the surface, waiting for the small flimsey cup to fill with what passed for water in the Expansion Region.
He scoffed the water in one mouthful and immediately began filling the cup again, looking around the cold grey offices of the Hyperspace Navigators’ Guild. It was a typical day, all a buzz with frantic activity from astrocartographers, analysts, computer maintenance techs and scoutship pilots; all looking for that undiscovered lush-green habitable planet, an untapped asteroid, some ravaged mining world with a new vein of resources to offer, a new hyperspace route to open up up for traffic and importation from the thriving Rim worlds.
Something to breath life into the dying Expansion Region.
Gavyn’s head shook as he thought of the wasted trip that he’d just returned from— three week turn around flight by himself; a total of 45 prospect scans across three whole sectors— nothing. Now he was in that data-crunch period: endless review of the astrogation data from his Sleuth scoutship.
“How did the flight go, Fre’way?”
The voice drew Gavyn’s attention to the being approaching him at the watercooler. Liska Vulk’cra, a female bothan who’d served with the HNG about a standard year longer than Gavyn, had about 40 scoutfights under her belt and- like him- barely any fruitful astrogation charts to show for it.
“Same as the last, Liska, same as the last,” he replied as he shuffled across, letting the bothan fill her own cup. “Some days, I really get think’n ‘bout the point here. I figured we’d be opening new routes to connect the galaxy, make the Empire more connected and stable; but here we are scrounging and picking through bones every day.”
Liska sipped quietly, nodding slowly and thoughtfully. “That does seem to have become the focus of the HNG. If I could transfer to the rim worlds I would, but,” she looked around the office cubicles then pointedly at Gavyn. “Word is that the Empire is combining the astrogation clans.”
Gavyn frowned. “You mean they’re nationalising us as well?”
She nodded. “Yes, and when that happens there may not be a place here for being like me.” With a flash of her sharp teeth she gave Gavyn a sardonic smile. “Do not worry about yourself, Gavyn, you come from an influential clan— and you’re human.”
There was an uproar of cheers and noise from the far side of the office, drawing their attention. “Not that influential.” Gavyn responded in a distracted tone. “What’s all the fuss ’bout?”
Liska looked at him. “Oh yes, you would not have heard: Cado Cenvax.”
A groan escaped Gavyn’s throat. “That smug Bac-bag. What’s he turned to gold now?”
She hesitated. “He logged a mineral-rich asteroid belt on his last prospect. There has been a lot of elation because the Guild is going to negotiate the rights to the Imperial Navy— Cado stands to earn more honour for himself and his clan.”
Gavyn’s free hand gripped the rounded edge of cooler. “Kriffing nerfherder. Every time, how does he do it?”
Liska waited quietly, then added hopefully. “Well, there is talk that he is using this as an opportunity to transfer into the Academy, he has always had ambitions of being an officer. So at least you will not have to see him again.”
Gavyn watched from across the room as Cado, the posterboy from Caer Planeta, was adorned by his fellow Guild members, a self-satisfied smile on his face.
Watching him, Gavyn knew that he was going to have to do better.
He’d have to log more flights. He’d have to find that winning route, that untapped asteroid or uncatalogued planet. He’d have to pour over his latest cartography charts. Surely there was something he missed, he just needed to find a way to work harder, longer hours. Then he could rub it in Cado’s face.