It wasn't just the best option, it was the only option. And when the hotshot recruiter, with his sun-shades and rakish smile, passed through town buying free beer and promising the whole damn universe, it seemed like fate had somehow conspired to land him here. It had spirited him off on a shuttle, landed him on a station that looked and operated as though it had been dragged kicking and screaming out of the Alliance's distant past with only a brief update to the paint job. All this on a hangover. All this with his head resonating with every industrial clash, and every underhanded metalic sound that the shuttle's crew made as they tossed the metal canisters out of the storage compartment onto the deck of the station, to be ferried off by a bunch of old-fashioned drones to his new ship - his new home - the Yves tu Asteria.
It landed him in front of Lieutenant Kha'lazza, paradoxically beautiful and terrible. Elves were like that. Long and lithe-featured, black hair bound back into a tight bun, and wearing both an expression of skeptical disdain and that sheepskin that was so iconic to the Wings over her coveralls, she seemed to view his fellow new hires with the same humorless pleasure of someone observing burned, inedible toast.
Then, she gave the perfunctory, "Welcome to the Wings."
She referred to a clipboard. He joined the general line in front of her, most of his valuables slung over his shoulder - what little there were of them he'd remembered to pack, drunk. Eventually it was his turn in front of the woman. His recruiter had already disappeared off somewhere. Probably to whatever watering hole this station called a dive.
"Name, age, place of origin. Next of kin, if you've decided, charitable cause if you haven't."
With nothing to lose and a chance to start fresh, the young lad raked his hand threw his messy brown hair and filled out the clipboard. He was the youngest out of his siblings often refered to as "pup" or the occasional "runt" by his older more successful sibling. A little over 18, he just wanted to make somthing of himself instead of being confind to this small town for the rest of his life. His mother would probobly yell at him for making a deciision thats rash like this, her pointed ears twitching every time she was angry or he got on her nerves, whereas his father would probly care very little - such as it is for most humans round here.
After signing his name to the clipboard, using his maiden name Rex rather thin his real name Jamie - as he didnt want the teasing of a girls name - he handed back the clipboard.
The Lieutenant looked it over. "Rex."
She closed the bottom flat of the clipboard over the papers, and tucked it beneath her arm. Rex had been the last of the group. The others had shuffled into something that resembled a line, despite not having been explicitly told to do so - that was the feeling of the room. It looked informal, but the atmosphere was all business. She finally stopped staring at him, in favor of staring at the others.
"So here you are," she said, not bothering to raise her voice. It made her a little difficult to hear with the cacophony of the shuttlebay going on around them. "Trainees. Some of you have the circumstances for driving these woodships, some of you don't. Don't feel bad about that. Even if you've got the DNA for it, you'll probably fail anyway. Most people can't talk to them. You'll probably have an easier time of it - be security, lumpers, engineers, whatever, after your indoc.
"We'll test all of you anyway and you'll all get a chance to see if you can pilot before that, though, soon as we set foot on the ship. Probably Jack told you, you can all fucking pilot. Wear the jacket. Be big damn Solarity heroes, aces, and hotshots. But there's more happens on these new woodships than you'd figure. It's a lot different from your grand-daddy's corvette. So even if you know what you're doing shipboard - you're going to have to forget what you know about the standard shit, otherwise nothing's going to make sense to you."
She glanced the line, and lingered on Rex - Jamie - for a brief moment longer then the rest.
"Well? Anyone want to go first? How about you, half'n'half?"
"o-okay." jamie Said as he stepped forward. unsure of what hes getting himself into. in the back of his mind hes mildly panicing of screwing up but has gotten good at hiding these insicuritys around his siblings but with thesepeople hes not so sure. "What do i have to do ma'am?"
"What else?" she asks. "Try to fly one."
The next vessel the little group boarded, led by the pilot-jacketed elf, seemed incongruant with the rest of the station as they approched it. Jamie now knew exactly what the Lieutenant had meant by 'woodship'; the description was accurate. It looked like the trunk of a tree that had been turned on its side, worked over in bark with sinewy grain beneath. Artificial stanchions had been erected in one of the landing bays to hold it horizontally, though it looked as though it had been created to sit upright, with the prow towards the sky or stars, and whatever propelled it, caged by a latticework of roots, looked meant to be distinctly pointing down.
Now, it seemed to just be pointing towards the bay doors, looking entirely anachronistic in comparison to the smooth blue metal, or rusty hues of the docks around it. The entire thing was about as long as a small corvette, or an air blimp, about twenty five meters in length, and it didn't seem like it had an entrance. This didn't deter its apparent pilot; the jacketed elf walked up to some point on the side, and placed a hand on the ship's rough hull.
Timber cracked, loud and sudden. In mild awe, the small group of recruits watched the sinews part, stretching open to reveal a small hallway to duck through, inside the stouit little ship. A few of the sinews separated from around the new portal, revealing little root-like hooks that reformed downwards into what seemed like a rudamentary step-ladder. Kha'lazza grabbed on to it, and was halfway up it when she realized nobody was following her.
The pilot seemed amused. "What? Nobody told you? This is Yves."
Jamie looked at the "woodship" in awe. "I'm going to be honest with you Ma'am, but ive never piloted anything in my life. Hunting I've done. Flying, never. Heck, I havn't even been behind the stick of a plow."