Pilot Zo

Zo was wondering what was taking Qin so long. Or he would have wondered if he wasn’t trying to evade the Neuzan space pirate fleet which was steadily gaining on the Zeppulian. The space pirates were gaining far quicker than Zo would have liked, which wasn’t at all. Better yet he would have liked the pirates to be gaining on another ship which he didn’t happen to be on and struggling to pilot. He flicked switches and pulled levers impotently with the crazed panic of a man who had no idea what he was doing but really hoped you wouldn’t notice his fumbling in the dark. Which probably why he had turned off the lights. Being in darkness didn’t help him pilot the Zeppulian any better though. It didn’t make him pilot it worse either but that was only because he had set the bar so extremely low that the laws of physics and probability as understood by most mortal beings just didn’t allow for it. The Zeppulian zigged and zagged awkwardly and completely by accident in response to Zo’s panicked switch flicking and lever pulling. Fortunately for Zo, the Zeppulian’s superior speed helped evade the Neuzan pirate fleet far more than his desperate flailing did. In fact it would probably do better if he just left it well alone but panic had already moved in and unpacked its stuff so he wasn’t able to realise this at the moment.

“I hope this does something,” he hoped out loud as he pushed a blinking light on the touchpad in front of him. It didn’t do something. Well, it did but it wasn’t something that Zo could see since it had opened up the transparition channel for the ship’s teleporter, however that wasn’t relevant now. Zo had only just noticed the captain’s touchpad directly in front of him. He had been so preoccupied with flicking the switches above him and pulling the levers beside him, that the touchpad directly in front of him went untouched until now. And having touched it, he wasn’t sure what it controlled or if it was even connected to the ship’s control panel. There were no wires or cables which connected the blindingly obvious touchpad in front of him to any of the USB ports on what he assumed was the control panel.  The blinking light he had touched hadn’t seemed to him to have done something and he was skeptical of touchpads when there were switches to be flicked and levers to be pulled. He was a tactile creature and physically moving something seemed to have more effect than simply touching a blinking light on a static touchpad. This was completely incorrect but it was how Zo felt. He then noticed the bluetooth symbol in the bottom right corner of the touchpad and realised that it connected wirelessly. He would have shaken his head in acknowledgement of his lack of awareness but just then a blast from one of the Neuzuan pirate ships deflected off the Zeppulian’s shields shaking his head for him and dislodging any acknowledgement of his own flaws from mind.

“At least the shields seem to be holding up,”  he muttered before realising how much he had just tempted fate and cursed himself violently for doing so. A moment passed without any flashing emergency lights telling him something was wrong, aside from the ones already flashing of course, and he breathed with a sigh of relief. Just then the shields…

 

Continued working just fine. For this was the grandest ship in the galaxy after all and it had recently undergone significant shield upgrades while docked on the planet Lozth before it was acquired through less than honest means by its current, incompetent, pilot. Zo of course couldn’t have known this since it was one of those little details he didn’t like thinking too much about. Furthermore, he wasn’t in the loop when it came to scheduled deflector shield upgrades for ships he impulsively decided to commandeer on a whim. Even with the shields holding, the way the Neuzuan fleet was still managing to gain on the Zeppulian despite Zo’s haphazard flying and the ship’s superior speed was worrying to Zo. Most things were worrying to Zo when they weren’t going the way he would have liked, which itself was more common than he would have liked. His gills felt dry due to stress. This also happened more often than he would have liked. He half-wished that they had thought to bring someone who had some could actually pilot the Zeppulian instead of flailing with crazed panic in the vague hope that one of the buttons pushed, switches flicked, or levers pulled would have some beneficial effect.

 

The command bridge’s lights suddenly blinded Zo as an energetic girl burst into the command bridge with a sense of purpose and a slightly senseless Qin dragged in behind her. She looked around her taking in the layout of the command bridge, the five chairs arranged in a semicircle, the switches overhead and the levers on the side. She also immediately noticed the touchpad in front which had been so oblivious to Zo. She looked at Zo with something approaching the sympathetic pity one feels when watching a child play at being an adult and failing so miserably that their complete and utter failure is admirably cute in its completeness.

“Hey, uh, guy, you gotta pull up the thrust boosters and open the steering app. How the gluup have you been steering the ship without it?” she asked curtly and with genuine curiosity. It should have been impossible to steer without a steering app yet somehow Zo with his manic flailing had manage to steer the ship by pure coincidence.

“Um, luck and a tremendous amount of skill?” Zo hazarded back to this still unknown entity which had burst so suddenly and unexpectedly into his reality.

“Yeah… that’s not gonna do. Move over flyboy. Let’s get the steering app open and see if we can get out of here,” enthused the girl whose name Zo still didn’t know, plunking herself down in the co-pilot’s seat but making it clear that she expected Zo to vacate the pilot’s seat very soon. She then glanced up at the monitors and,

“Holy zersflit, are those Neuzuan space pirates on our tail? You didn’t say it was the Neuzuan fleet! How haven’t they caught up with us yet? Okay, let’s make sure they don’t catch up with us at all,” she declared as she started up the steering app on the touchpad in front of her and started unswitching most of the switches Zo had switched. She shot a look back at Qin who was still standing idly by the elevator with an intrigued yet somehow cheerful look on his face.

“You might want to sit down Qin,” she advised. Qin followed her advice. It was good advice and he noted it as such. Zo looked at Qin with an incredulous look on his face, at a loss for words although his expression spoke volumes that his mouth would recap eventually.  

“Qin,” he started, “Who is this?” he queried as his brain caught up to the situation which was unfolding in front of him.

“Oh, this is Kara and she’s a pilot, I think. She didn’t say but it looks like she knows what she’s doing which is a nice change,” Qin replied with that cheery enthusiasm which always seemed to disarm Zo. Kara then interrupted them both,

“Hold on to something, preferably yourself, since this is going to be interesting.” And she swiped her finger on the steering app.