“Please,” you whimper. “I’m sorry. It’s just, I get the headset on and I forget everything. And it’s not like pushing buttons at random is necessarily a good thing, you know? What if I were in the gunner’s chair and I just pressed buttons? I could blow up a planet!”
“You overthink things,” Instructor Terra says, her gaze softening. “These are simple exercises – and assessments. These tell us a lot about our candidates, their temperaments, how they think, what their strengths and weaknesses are. We don’t have much information on you, because you get hung up wandering around the room on the very first level.”
You’re losing yourself in her words. She has such a nice voice, smooth with just a touch of feminine smokiness in it. And she is beautiful. At least, to you she is. Other cadets have their own preferences, but you’ve had a crush on Terra, as you call her in your head, since day 1 at the academy. She seemed so strong and so elegant when she first called your name and ushered you into her unit, along with fifty other cadets. You were too tongue tied to speak to her, even when the other cadets were badgering her with questions. You’ve barely said two words to her since you got in a month or so ago. Truth be told, if it wasn’t for these single assessments, she probably wouldn’t know you exist.
“I’m sorry,” you say in a small voice. “But please… I can get it right, I know I can.”
Terra nods. “Listen,” she says. “I can’t do another assessment now. There’s another cadet waiting for the machine. But, if you come back after chow tonight, I’ll let you run through it again. Deal?”
“Deal,” you smile, relieved. “Thank you, Instructor Terra.”
She smiles back at you and helps you out of the chair. You feel a tingle where her hand lightly rests on your elbow, and your pulse races as her eyes meet yours.
“Try to relax, cadet,” she smiles. “You’ll do better.”
“Yes ma’am,” you nod, turning to leave. Just as you do, you feel a light swat land on your bottom. It sends a bolt of excitement racing through your loins. Blushing, you turn to see Instructor Terra smiling at you.
“I mean it,” she says gently. “You’re overworking yourself. No study for the rest of today.”
“Yes, ma’am,” you nod, not meeting her gaze. “Thank you, ma’am.”
You leave the room, grinning to yourself, and almost immediately run into Boris. Boris is another cadet in your unit, and he just so happens to be from your village too. You were both selected for the academy at the same time. He’s a little older than you, twenty five years old, to your twenty two. You’ve known him your whole life, and he’s like an older brother to you in some ways – a big, jerky older brother.
“Heard you failed again,” he sneers at you with his big, dopey grin.