(My first fanfic. This will chronicle many missions in the history of the ISAP. For now, it doesn't have a plot. I will just add a chapter whenever I think of a cool scenario).
Part 1: First Flight
(This is not supposed to be happy or sad, just to make the reader think).
Fel-Tek shook with anticipation and terror. Whatever glimmers of excitement he had possesed were now nonexistent. At this point, he was worried only for his life. Strapped into a tin can without anyone else to reassure him, he realized that his greatest worry was that he would die alone. Three probes had already been launched, each with at least some measure of success, but there had been no risk to actual life before Fel-Tek's imperceptibly trembling form had been forced inside Stargazer's command pod. He'd been told that he was chosen because he was the greatest pilot the ISAP had ever seen. The truth, as proven by the notes he had seen inside the Colonel's office, was that he was the only pilot that the simulator gave even a 30% chance of survival and was also expendable. But all that was behind him now. The countdown was starting.
10... 9... 8... 7...
Fel-Tek tried to focus on the ship's controls.
6... 5... 4... 3...
He took in what could have been the deepest breath of his life.
2... 1... LIFTOFF!
Fel-Tek found himself suprisingly calm as he slowly eased the throttle up and activated the stability computer. The boosters fired as expected, but something was awry with the solid boosters. They wouldn't engage. Fel-Tek was forced to decouple and hope that the liquid fuel alone could carry him into Issen's orbit.
He was in orbit. No NiiVan had ever witnessed what Fel-Tek now saw. The great blue sphere that was Issen hung below him, suspended as if by magic. Fel-Tek's sub-orbital trajectory was corrected by the autopilot. The only problem was that he had no remaining fuel. He was forced to hope that the parachutes would work. Fel-Tek's life flashed before his eyes. He had never truly felt satisfied, not even when he was flying. That was the one thing that came naturally to Fel-Tek. He graduated top of his class in all things aerodynamic, but something was missing. As he reentered the atmosphere, Fel-Tak realized that this was the freedom of space. After his 77-minute suborbit, Fel-Tek felt truly conent for the first time in his short life. He also felt terrified. This model of parachute had failed before. Even the computer thought he had a low chance of survival.
In the end, Fel-Tek had nothing to fear. He splashed down safely and was retrieved by helicopter. He was never sent into space again. Fel-Tek, lying on his deathbed 98 local years later, was forced to admit that he had never been as happy as when the entire universe was before him.
Part 2: Endings and Beginnings
Lok-Jin, pilot extraordinaire, was about to die. He had rehearsed this moment over and over in his head since he had begun basic training, but he had never expected to be as calm as he was at the moment of death. Of course, Lok-Jin understood the risks involved with space trave, perhaps better than any other. He was the best. No one else could come even close to what Lok-Jin was capable of, on his natural wings or in a spacecraft, but when he was alone, Lok-Jin sometimes broke down and cried from the stress. He wasn't supposed to be this way. He was tough.
When Lok-Jin was 5 local years old, he had decided that he would become a pilot. His entire family thought he was crazy. Flight School was the most presigious university in all of Issendrix, and Lok-Jin was a farmer from a struggling agricultural province in the northern wastes. Who was he to think that he could become a pilot? Only the best of the best had any hope, and Lok-Jin was advised to just give it up. He didn't.
When he was 16 local years old, Lok-Jin was accepted to fight school under the most miraculous of circumstances. He submitted his application, a long shot by anyone's measure, and tensely waited for six long weeks for the respone. He began to find himself hoping to get even a rejection, as the stress was almost too much for him to cope with. Lok-Jin ended up on a tour of the facility, not yet having recieved a response. He quietly snuck away from the tour group. To make a long story short, Lok-Jin ended up with advanced flight training from a master instructor who saw him joyriding in the newest prototype craft. He vouched for the boy, and got him accepted. Not even Lok-Jin could believe it. But that was flight school in a nutshell.
At the age of 24, Lok-Jin found himself onboard his first orbital flight. He felt free in space, but he needed something more. He was not absolutely alone. Supervisors watched his every move. Lok-Jin needed to get away from the other NiiVan, and found himself longing to get away, to another planet even. Lok-Jin was surprised when he got his wish.
At 35 local years of age, Lok-Jin was entered into the Dusk program. He had been paired with two other young up-and-comers, and was headed for Rigel IX without a hitch when something suddenly went wrong. A white light grew brightre in front of the hatch, and nothing the pilots did could elininate it. It began, slowly at first but later picking up speed, to eat the ship and its inhabitants. Lok-Jin moved closer to the light. With his last conscious thoughts, Lok-Jin did not worry about his family. He merely asked himself one question: was it his Dusk, or his Dawn?