“So, what do you need from me exactly?”
“Practicality, captain. Practicality.” She pushed her fork into her food one last time before pushing the tray away. “I can look up the specs on the Talon all day long, but what I can’t look up is real-world scenarios. Any piece of equipment should live up close to design specs, but what does it really do? How fast does it turn; do its engines cycle hot? You know, that sort of thing.”
“I don’t know what to tell you, Andren.” Turner lifted his fork, pausing as he thought for a moment. “The Talon is simply the best fighter I ever flew. It’s design specs run right down the map like they’re supposed to.” He lifted his hand, taking his first bite. He raised his brow at the unexpected flavor. “This is pretty good.”
“Humph. I think I just lost all respect for you,” she replied.
“In all seriousness, there hasn’t been a better fighter built by any of the home world planets.”
“Then why did they replace it?”
“For the same reasons engineers replace everything, no disrespect intended,” he said as he looked up to her. “Someone has a better idea or technology improves to such an extent that it allows for evolution.” He dipped his fork again into his plate. “That doesn’t always mean it’s better though.”
“Have you ever piloted the Harrier?”
“Never had the chance,” he replied. “Besides, I couldn’t do it for long.”
“Evolution, by dear Andren. Evolution.” He shoveled another mouthful, letting it slide down gently. He leaned back, letting his hand come to rest on the table, the fork gripped tightly. “Fighters now are all tied into your brain. They react to your reactions, to your thoughts. It’s instinctual, but that comes with a price.” Turner crossed his arms and stared down at the table. He seemed lost in thought.
“What kind of price?”
The pause in the conversation hung in the air. Turner continued to stare, his eyes unfocused.
“A loss of humanity.” He blinked and looked back up at her. “We are in danger of becoming what we abhor. This mechanized society where we become one with our weapons, one with our ships all in the name of saving ourselves.”
“If we don’t save ourselves, what is the point of this war, Frank?” She leaned forward planting her elbows firmly on the table, her posture rigid. “We must survive, damn it. I won’t be wiped from the face of the universe without a fight.” Her faced reddened as the passion in her voice began to climax. I will not let my planet die in vain.”
“I’m sorry,” he replied. “I didn’t mean …”
“Of course you did!” She pushed herself away from the table. “Maybe this was a mistake.”
“Andren no, please.” He leaned forward reaching his hand across the table, his touch falling short. “We’ve both been through a terrible ordeal.”
She sat silent staring, her blue eyes burning with a renewed fire.