Dalton stared down through the viewport. He stood a little over six and a half feet and with his sharp cut gray suit and "shoulder curtains" as the children called them, he very well could have topped seven.
"Beautiful sight, is it not?"
Magda turned her head so quickly her body forgot to follow, resulting in her wrenching her neck horribly. She winced and rubbed the parts that hurt. "I don't think beautiful is the word I'd use."
Dalton raised an eyebrow. "No? One of eternities great occurrences and you have a different word for it?"
Magda didn't know what to say. Dalton had been her instructor for two years now--thought it had felt like forty--and still she struggled to feel like she could speak to the man as anything approaching a student-pupil relationship. "Terrifying," she finally said, her neck still smarting though she had stopped rubbing it, "is a bit closer to how I'd describe it."
Dalton nodded. For all his fire in and out of the classroom, he had a penchant for long, ponderous silences. His head slowly nodding, lips pursed giving his long face an almost totemic quality. Magda would not be surprised to find an ancient carving of a stone head that resembled the man. He seemed as eternal as his beloved space.
"Perhaps we are speaking of different things?" He gestured to the meteor hurtling toward Earth. "You see this and think of the potential for death and destruction. The careless cruelty of an uncaring universe. I," he shifted his body, his arm swung out, encompassing the basecamp and the view of Earth, "see a civilization that has evolved to the point of accepting eternity's myriad conundrums and dealing with them in kind."
As he finished, a whirring emitted from beneath them. The system's automated defenses had been tracking the rock, but were now spinning into place to dislodge it from its course. With a blunt THUNK a projectile flew from the cannon that lay below the viewport. Hurtling through space, its trajectory took it on a collision course with the meteor. Magda watched, a tightness taking hold of her throat. Her hand went back to her neck, though this time it massaged the front, her fingers working strenuously to loosen the knot that had formed there. When she felt her teacher glance in her direction, her hand wilted away and began tugging on her collar.
"Don't be ashamed." His voice boomed even when he whispered. "Not a day goes by where I am not gripped by the power of it. Countless parts working together, communicating in ways that have existed for decades but only now, on this scale, are they capable of doing such a thing. Machinery. Code. Human ingenuity and craft. All working together. And yet, the slightest misfire and it all goes away. Thrilling, is it not?"
Magda laughed. It was a tired, strangled thing, but still there managed to be a smidge of joy in it. "Again, professor, not the word I'd use."
The corners of Dalton's mouth ticked upward and a mirthful gleam shone in his eye. He liked her, at least, Magda had convinced herself that he liked her. Dalton Lee had earned a complicated reputation. Stoic yet animated. Strict, yet undeniably playful in his own way. For over thirty years hundreds of students had struggled to "figure him out." When she first arrived at the school, Magda didn't know what they meant by it. Teachers were people that laid out instructions for students to follow. Along the way, some became more than teachers. Mentors, idols--though a bad experience in the academy had taught her to avoid ever making the same mistake. But not something to figure out. She suspected it had to do with students who's talents expanded beyond textbooks and studying. Even now she hated to admit it, but years in the academy had taught her that the road to success wasn't a road at all. Some, like her, took the straight path. Study, read, learn the material until you became it master. Others took a more circuitous path. They didn't learn the material so much as they learned the teachers. What made them tick, what kind of people were they, what kinds of students did they like. There was a reason Dalton Lee graduated so many astounding recruits. The latter never lasted long under his tutelage. But those that did...
"Professor Lee?" A young girl rushing up the long corridor behind them waved her hand. Sweat dripped from her face and her hair fell in stifled fronds across her face. "You're needed down in Main, sir. Admiral Phisher wants to speak to you."
Raising an eyebrow, Dalton tossed his scarf over his shoulder. "Can't it wait."
Had the meteor changed course in that moment and started hurtling toward the very viewport they were standing by, Magda didn't think the girl would look any more shocked or uncomfortable than she did in that moment. To her credit, she managed to gather herself and say, "I'm sorry, professor. But he says its urgent."
"More urgent than," Dalton held his hand out to the window, his fingers curled up as if he planned on plucking the meteor out of space so he could show it to the young woman before placing it back on its course. In the end, his stoicism returned and, his hands returning to their place behind his back, he said, "Very well. Lead the way.
The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:
Begin Start typing to begin
Words Reach 50 words
Event A meteor approaches Earth
Words Reach 100 words
Character A fiery teacher
Letter Use the letter S
Words Reach 200 words
Location A camp
Words Reach 300 words
Words Reach 400 words
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Words Reach 700 words
Prop Include a scarf
Words Reach 800 words
Words Reach 900 words
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