Willow crashed through the scrubby land separating the woods from the hangar she was working in, her face dark with anger and confusion. Mala had spent the whole of their evening break making jokes about how Willow had accidentally wired the doors of the scout ship she was working on incorrectly and locked herself inside. Normally, Willow wouldn't mind... normally, the sharp banter of the Base was what kept them all going, but...
'Well, normally, I don't make mistakes!' Willow scolded herself.
She was distraught.
It had been two days since she had arrived with Tara. Their journey in the small bright haven of the Q-ship was cut short the second that Willow had landed the craft. Contrary to his brief, Tobias had met the ship immediately on landing, accompanied by several of the highest-ranking soldiers on the base. They had swept Tara and her packages away, with barely the briefest of nods to Willow as she busied herself securing the Q-ship.
'And she tried to say thank-you and they... they wouldn't even let her stop!' Willow replayed the actions in her mind for the hundredth time.
Tara had turned to say goodbye or thank you, or at least appeared to be about to say something kind but the soldiers had led her away before she could speak, with Tobias hurrying them all through the security gates. Willow had a second to herself as she watched them go, but was then immediately swamped by Mala who had insisted on a minutely detailed description of everything about flying the Q-ship. Mala then demanded Willow's newly acquired clothes be returned and sent Willow to her quarters.
'On orders! Like I've ever needed to be ordered... I just flew a Q-ship single-handedly and she sends me to my room like a kid!'
Willow confronted the hangar door and glared angrily at her tools lying scattered around where Mala had used them to pry open the doors of the ship inside and release her.
'And now she leaves my kit all over the ground, like... like it's special rustproof metal that I haven't spent years begging from all the cruddy full pilots with their dumb ranks and pretty tunics and stupid escorting war hero duties...' Willow continued to mumble to herself as she circled the ship and collected her tools.
'And I escorted a war hero and I don't even get a nod or a thanks or a smile... well, I got a smile from Tara...' Willow smiled gently to herself as she remembered the lopsided smile of her passenger, before sitting to check her tools. The redhead's anger dimmed as she carefully wiped and oiled her equipment.
'Her eyes...' Willow's stomach dropped as she reminded herself of the wonder of Tara's eyes. Bubbles flew merrily around her body. Her slight smile grew to a sure grin as she packed tools into a worn wood and leather case.
Suddenly Willow ran outside the hangar to look at the evening sky. 'That's the colour...' Willow watched the edge of the sky opposite the setting sun where the blue was turning dark and deep. 'That's the colour of her eyes, just where the stars are beginning to burn through...'
Smiling at the sight, the young pilot turned back to the hangar, her anger gone. She gathered her tools and secured the structure with a quick grace before heading through the inky forest to her home.
Back in her quarters, Willow's mood was still lifted. It had taken some years, but she finally had her own room - even if it was a little cramped. She had built or borrowed most of the contents, and the result was cluttered but imaginative.
A large desk took up most of one thin wall, crammed with electronics and diagrams. Bright pots of coloured pencils and tools weighed down maps and blueprints. Above the desk was a slightly more organised shelf that contained stacks of thick mystical books and manuscripts.
The opposite wall was also set with shelves containing patched clothes, flying equipment, and tools. There were coils of wire, pots and pans, a shovel, rope, and assorted boxes of computing components.
Willow's bedroll rested against the bottom of the shelves, it's faded and patched blankets folded neatly nearby. With the bed unrolled, there wasn't even room to sit at the desk, although if necessary, Willow could nest her bedroll into a hammock and sling it between the hooks she had bolted onto the far walls.
It was unusual that she had free time at the end of the day - usually Mala would leave her some plans to examine, or she would be needed to help patrol or clean communal areas of the Base. Willow checked the rota pinned by her door and felt her mood lift even more as she realised she was indeed free from any tasks on the base.
And Mala isn't getting any help from me after all those jokes! Willow thought to herself, although with much better cheer. Well.... I guess it was kinda funny me stuck in there all covered in soot from the wiring fault... Willow acknowledged the previous incident before turning back to her desk.
There was plenty of studying she could do - Alide was forever making her learn magick rules and laws, or translate basic spells. Willow studied some of the titles on her shelves dreamily, but was not inspired.
Magicks enthralled her when she could see what was happening, but Willow found it difficult to interpret the spells herself. Sometimes she would struggle for hours over a basic transfiguration translation, yet she could calculate flight vectors in seconds without difficulty.
But Tobias said Tara was strong with magick, so maybe I should brush up, I mean, what if she wants to talk about magick and all I can do is nod and wish that I had read mystical primer number 4 properly and then she thinks I'm stupid and all engineery and... Willow's thoughts made the decision, and she grabbed the tome that Alide had been encouraging her to study.
The first few pages were ok, but soon Willow was struggling. The book was describing a kind of philosophy of magicks, focusing on a type of old magick that Alide had thought may have been related to those on Willow's home planet. There were different colours for different 'types' of the magick and they were all dependant on the original spirit of use. It was the origins that were defeating Willow, the huge context of history and language behind each type was hard to decode without more knowledge.
Finally, Willow looked up and gave in to the huge stretch building inside her. She felt her back crunch as she leant back over her rough chair, tipping the legs and letting her head fall backwards to see an open door and...
And there's someone in my doorway. Someone! Not just anyone! Tara! Tara's in my doorway looking at me upside down. No, I'm upside down and she's the right way up and...
The inevitable balance failed and Willow crashed backwards onto the floor, scattering papers and heavy magick books as her boots caught and tools rang loud in metal protest