More time passed since the loss of Challenger and her crew. Columbia had taken full responsibility of the fleet leadership, while Atlantis had become the official ‘rookie shuttle’ for training new astronauts and technicians to open up more to her passion of teaching and also in memory of her lost friend. While most people had moved on, the staff of the Kennedy began to notice Discovery had changed since then.
Before, Discovery had always been open to them and would allow humans to pet her nose, but now she became more and more aloof as time passed. She was quick to anger, difficult to manage, and was much more aggressive than she had been before. While she tolerated experienced astronauts, she was difficult with the technicians that worked on her and with the rookie astronauts, and downright aggressive with the NASA administrators. She was particularly hostile towards Gordon Sykes. She had learned that he, as the shuttle program manager, had been repeatedly warned by several engineers that the O rings in low temperatures would cause something to go out of order, but he hadn’t listened, and was therefore part to the cause of the loss. Whenever Gordon showed up, Discovery would get so worked up and try to attack him that the technicians had to hold her back with heavy chains and clubs while she snarled viciously at them to let her attack him.
However, she was not always like this. She temporarily reverted back to her old self when she got the privilege of flying the return to flight mission. The astronauts were hopeful, thinking that maybe she would be easy to handle again, but it was not to be; as soon as she got back on the ground Discovery went back to her bitter, aggressive self and hid in her hangar.
In 1993, the 747 touched down on the Kennedy Space Center again, delivering a brand new shuttle to serve as a replacement to Challenger. Her name was Endeavour.
Endeavour had emerald-green eyes and was the same size as her sisters. She had been built out of structural spares left over from the construction of Discovery and Atlantis. However, as seen from her first day, Endeavour was quite high-strung, nervous, and the slightest thing could scare her. When she had been directed to her new hangar, a technician had accidentally set of a fire alarm nearby. Endeavour panicked and bolted, hiding in her hangar. It took the entire day for Columbia to calm her down, though she stayed hidden from the world for a while. This gave Discovery the opportunity to talk to her, as Discovery herself distanced herself most of the time, and the two became close quickly. Discovery was very protective of Endeavour, and would shield her away whenever she suspected someone was trying to threaten them.
As more time passed, Endeavour was able to settle down after her first launch. However, Discovery remained the way she was; cold, hostile, and aggressive. She began to shun humans out more and more with each passing day. Everyone was pretty much out of options on how to calm her, so they decided to go along with her, and several rules were made to make sure neither she nor them got hurt.
The director limited human contact with Discovery as much as possible, and only exposed her to them if he deemed necessary. He also made sure that she spent as much time with her sisters as possible, as her behavior improved quite a bit with them around. Seeing that she had a better preference for experienced people, he made sure that she only got experienced astronauts and technicians as much as possible.
With these rules in place, things quieted down for a while. However, there would be some rough times when she would attack or throw an anger fit over a rookie that was mistakenly assigned to her, or whenever Gordon came to visit. However, she always got comfort from talking to Columbia.
“Geez Columbia these people…” Discovery grumbled to her sister one day as they were sitting in Columbia’s hangar. It had been quite rough for her, as Gordon had come over again. She had gotten a lash on the tip of her nose from the heavy chain, which had hurt like crazy. The bruise was still throbbing, and she was in a bad mood because of it.
Columbia sighed and nuzzled her sister. “Disco, maybe if you tried and opened up to humans you could help them understand you better-“ She started, but she got a snort from Discovery. “Talk to the humans? Are you kidding me??!! As if they’d help; they’re just too stupid and selfish to ever understand me!” she grumbled as she laid her head down.
Gently nuzzling her sister, Columbia sat down beside her. “Disco…” She said quietly. “Let me tell you something… Just because most of the humans seem like that doesn’t mean that all of them are bad… You mustn’t generalize about a whole in general just because the majority seems to be like that. I know most of them don’t appear to care… but if you keep looking, maybe you’ll find someone who understands you at heart…”
Discovery gave another snort. “Yeah right…” she muttered as she got up and rolled to the door slowly. “I kinda doubt that….” She said. Humans good? Pah… if they cared they wouldn’t be chaining her and hitting her with hard objects…
But Discovery was about to learn how wrong she was, because on that summer of 1994, a new astronaut was arriving at the Kennedy Space Center…